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Environmental Initiatives Top Of Mind For Financial Services Execs

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of financial institution executives say they plan to build new or undergo a major remodel of an existing branch in the next 12-24 months and the vast majority (88 percent) say green initiatives are important to their financial institutions, according to 2008 IBT Market Pulse Survey: A Different Shade of Green (download here).

In fact, the study found that the majority (58 percent) of financial institutions are planning new building projects, and of that group more than three-quarters (75 percent) are considering the use of green building materials and practices.

Executives planning new building projects say energy efficiency considerations are very important (76 percent) to their institutions, followed closely by indoor air quality (72 percent) and indoor work place (61 percent).

Being Green on a Daily Basis

Seven in ten executives polled said “being green” is important to their financial institution because “we are all stewards of the earth – we are doing what is right” and nearly as many (68 percent) say they are green because they “realize benefits from the lower operation costs.”

Almost all (93 percent) financial services executives say they work in buildings that use fluorescent lighting and/or skylights, 47 percent use high-efficiency plumbing, 43 percent eco-friendly heating and air conditioning and 43 percent energy-efficient windows.

Some of the green initiatives financial services executives report their facilities participate in include:

  • Using energy-efficient lighting, including compact fluorescent lights (81 percent),
  • Having an active recycling initiative (74 percent),
  • Encouraging ride-sharing or public transportation for employees (62 percent), and
  • Using environmentally friendly cleaning products (46 percent).

Only 44 percent of financial services executives knew of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, but 55 percent of those that did said they will be seeking LEED certification for future building or remodeling projects.

Today nearly three-in-ten (29 percent) of those surveyed work in a location that was expressly built with energy efficiency in mind.

Offering Green Services

The majority (86 percent) of financial services executives surveyed say being green is important to their clientele. The figures do show that while some environmentally-friendly services are in place, there is room for improvement both in breadth of offerings and overall use of such services.

For example, nearly all (90 percent) respondents report having paper avoidance programs like electronic billing, statements and online applications in place for their customers. However, 58 percent of executives reported less than a quarter of their customers utilize such programs, and only 16 percent said the majority of their customers take part in the programs.

Some institutions are offering environmental-friendly services in addition to paper avoidance programs. Nineteen percent have eco-friendly car loans, 17 percent offer eco-friendly home financing, and eight percent have “green” credit cards where financial institutions make contributions to green initiatives based on spending. Across the board, consumer usage is very modest where these services are offered.

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Conducted in April 2008, the 2008 IBT Market Pulse Survey is based on an online survey among a nationwide sample of executives with financial institutions. Of the 124 participants, 21 percent are president/CEO/chairman, 38 percent vice president and 34 percent senior management. Ninety one percent are employed in a bank or credit union. Eighty-six percent work in institutions with assets of $101 million or greater; 37 percent of respondents work for institutions with assets greater than $1 billion. Sixty-four percent of respondents were male and 36 percent were female. The research was conducted by Atlanta-based Arketi Group.

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