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Green Banks for Green People
Wouldn’t it be nice to finance your project through a LEED-certified loan officer?
By ROnA FRIED, Ph.D.
Rona Fried, Ph.d., is
president of Sustainable
Business.com, the online
community for green
business: daily sustainable business and investor news, Green Dream
Jobs, Business Connections and the sustainable
Contact Fried at rona@
Consult your financial
advisor before making
At a time when people have lost faith in financial institutions, many of us have thought about trans- ferring funds from a “too big to fail” bank to a community bank, and in particular, a green community bank.
The biggest banks, of course, were complicit in the fall
2008 market crash and subsequent credit crisis and took
advantage of a taxpayer bailout. Beyond that, NGOs have
been taking them to task for years for the harm they cause
to the environment. Big banks finance coal plants, oil and
gas pipelines through the Amazon, the Three Gorges
Dam in China and many of the world’s environmentally
As signatories to the Equator Principles, a set of benchmarks for determining, assessing and managing social and
environmental risk in project financing, the biggest banks
have been moving toward more environmentally benign
lending practices. But they have a long way to go.
Meanwhile, there are now several trustworthy, successful green-oriented banks in the United States that give
preferential loans to individuals and businesses for energy
efficiency retrofits, renewable energy and more.
Operating since 1973, Chicago-based ShoreBank
( shorebankcorp.com) serves the social needs of the community by lending to urban redevelopment projects. It spun
off ShoreBank Pacific, which has been financing green
company businesses and projects in the Northwest.
San Francisco-based New Resource Bank (new
resourcebank.com) opened in 2005 and makes available
green loans, such as its solar home equity financing loan,
for projects that conventional banks won’t fund. Their
fixed-term solar certificates of deposit help fund solar
projects in the state.
“We want our customers to ask what every dollar is
used for, even in their checking accounts.”
—SANdy WIGGINS, E3BANK
Last year, Florida’s First Green Bank (firstgreenbank.
com) completed its fundraising round in just five weeks.
Common Good Bank ( commongoodbank.com) is working on an innovative community network structure, beginning in western Massachusetts.
And e3bank ( e3bank.com) is poised to open as a community bank in the greater Philadelphia region. Wouldn’t
it be great to sit with a loan officer who has LEED certification? And to work with a bank that has a triple-bottom-line
While the last thing on your mind might be investing
26 March 2010 SOLAR TODA Y solartoday.org
Copyright © 2010 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.