New Resource Bank is a one-branch community bank that provides products and services to customers who are predominantly small to mid-sized businesses, professionals, and not-for-profit organizations. The bank’s target market is Northern California, but it also supports state-wide energy projects; its mission is to “promote sustainable living in our community.”
Impacts and Opportunities for Banks
Beyond e-banking services, banks can encourage environmental stewardship through their products and services. For instance, banks can offer green loans focused on green technologies. Banks may also offer green mortgages with better rates or terms to buyers with energy efficient homes. Green credit cards can be used to support local charities and green checking accounts may reward customers with higher rates for personal behaviors that reduce individual impacts.
New Resource Bank’s goal is to have a loan portfolio 100% invested in businesses that are advancing sustainability. At the end of 2013, 79% of its loan commitments were mission oriented, the remainder were traditional community bank loans made to local businesses during the start-up phase. For new loans, the bank is focused on sustainability-oriented nonprofits, businesses with green products and services, and businesses that are on a path toward improving their operational sustainability and managing their impact on society and the environment.
Banks can play a key role in the communities in which they operate. From supporting local organizations to revitalizing neighborhoods and businesses, banks can use their lending expertise and knowledge to have a lasting impact on local communities.
New Resource Bank hosts a speaker series that brings industry experts, thought leaders, and customers together to foster community, encourage dialogue, and expand participants’ sustainability thinking. Past topics have included how to build a sustainable business, barriers to a sustainable economy, and best practices for social enterprises.
Direct Environmental Impacts
All financial institutions have a direct environmental impact stemming from their retail branches and headquarters. To minimize a bank’s direct environmental impact, common initiatives include online banking to minimize paper use, energy efficiency efforts for buildings and data centers, and videoconferencing to minimize business travel.
New Resource Bank has only one branch, yet the bank takes its direct environmental impact seriously and has a comprehensive environmental policy that addresses its core operations, including energy consumption, waste production, green procurement standards, and employee incentives that promote commuter alternatives to vehicles. To track its impact, New Resources Bank issues a report that charts the bank’s key impact areas, including greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water consumption, waste production, and the net impact of its commuter incentives.
Areas for Improvement
While New Resource Bank publishes a sustainability report, it does not provide absolute metrics for its key impact areas or set on-going reduction targets. Portfolio 21 would like to see the bank take this additional step in its environmental accounting.
Country: United States
To the best of our knowledge the above information is accurate and was obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. Neither the information presented above nor any opinion expressed shall be construed as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy the security. The views expressed are those of portfolio management as of 8/31/14 and may not reflect current opinions or subsequent events.