Chase & PNC Bank's Sustainability Program Shortcomings

Written By: Doug Ruhlin | Jul 19, 2012

Time to Read 5 Minutes

A lot of companies these days are jumping on the sustainability bandwagon. Some are doing great jobs at it, and are really changing their organizations and industries, while others are just giving it lip service. Here I discuss some things happening at a local Chase & PNC Bank which impact what the public perceives when they see a big company become "sustainable".

Everyone is starting to ask about sustainability. And it's about time. People are starting to really choose products and brands based off of their environmental performance (as well as other aspects). The point is, if you're claiming you're green, or sustainable, people want to see it, and know what you mean by that.

The other day I saw an interesting news release recently, "Oceans of Asphalt" to be eliminated. The news flash is about Killeen, TX changing local development regulations to require new stormwater management features. Short story is they want to eliminate 'oceans of asphalt' and facilitate better stormwater filtration, a reduction in stormwater volumes, and other environmental enhancements, such as the reduction of the heat island effect, in parking areas.

Finally! It makes so much sense! Why isn't everyone doing this? Especially in the southern states which can be brutally hot.

It’s great to hear these kinds of forward thinking requirements are being put into place. It also seems to me that this is a golden opportunity for the use of concrete with a lower albedo, instead of hot, jet-black asphalt.

I mean, previous concrete, for example can provide many of the benefits that these new regulations are looking for. Not only that, but using a light colored concrete can provide additional benefits such as reduced energy use through less cooling, heating, and lighting needs, better product longevity (life cycle analysis anyone?), and more! With more regulations like this, the future for concrete is bright – although I’d rather see the free market do the right thing rather than have to be forced in that direction by government regulations.

Chase & PNC Bank's Sustainability Program

Chase & PNC Bank's Sustainability Program Shortcomings

When I read this article, I couldn't help but think about a couple of big banks (Chase and PNC Bank) that recently built new branches near where I live, and the difference that concrete parking areas could have made.

While both of these banks have taken strides in becoming more sustainable, they, along with other large organizations, often miss little opportunities that can make a huge difference.

Take these asphalt parking lots at Chase & PNC Bank for example, what's the with asphalt guys? It's the new millennium, why are we still paving roads like it's the 1920's?! Asphalt parking lots get hot, raising the cost of cooling in the summer, while barely providing a benefit in the winter time to offset the extreme cooling costs. Plus they're dark, meaning you need to have stronger lighting at night time, since the parking lot absorbs light.

Ok, so they saved some money in the short term by using asphalt instead of concrete, but every year, year after year, they'll have to pay more for electric usage for lighting and cooling. Smart idea? I don't think so.

Not only that, but in a few years that parking lot is going to be broken, cracked, and need serious repair. Time for more fresh asphalt. Where's the cost savings again?

Why are people still doing this?

Imagine if they used concrete. Lighter color means less cooling costs, less lighting costs, a significantly lower maintenance cost over its life time (concrete lasts for years and years if properly installed, while asphalt doesn't)...

And imagine if they used pervious concrete! Then there's the added benefit of stormwater management, runoff reduction, groundwater recharge, and more!

Plus, it would get the community talking. "Hey did you see that parking lot at PNC Bank? There's never any water on it! It drains it all away!" You'd have people taking note, instead of just "Yup, it's another bank. Great."

This is just a small example, but seriously, if your organization is taking sustainability seriously, than take a look at how your operations are run, built, managed, designed, etc. No matter what kind of business you are, where you're located, or what your goals are, start thinking smarter where ever you can. Start thinking outside the box, even if it's a small thing.

Chase & PNC Bank's Sustainability Program

PNC Bank's Sustainability Successes

Having said that, PNC Bank's new office across the street is LEED NC2.1 Silver certified. Well done.

Not only that, but PNC Bank has the most LEED certified projects in New Jersey, and over 150 nationwide. Very, very commendable guys. That's some serious dedication.

On the flip side, Chase's new location was not anything special. It's just an old school bank surrounded by neon lights and black asphalt. Ok...

I honestly don't understand. When all said and done, both organizations lost an opportunity to enhance their environmental footprint, but went with asphalt anyways. Who's to blame? Architects? Engineers? Township officials? Someone higher up at PNC and Chase? Who's making these decisions and relying on 100+ year old paving techniques? Surely these banks aren't operating like they did 100 years ago, right?

To harp on concrete again, had they taken advantage of all concrete has to offer, PNC Bank may have gotten more LEED credits, and potentially a higher level of certification! LEED certified is pretty good, and I guess I should be happy at least PNC Bank is on the right path.

PNC & Chase Bank's Sustainability Program

Chase Bank's Sustainability Program - "Building Green"

This really got me. During the construction of the Chase location, they had a very small sign up saying "Building Green" with some feel good imagery and leaves and whatnot. Looked like typical green-washing BS.

Thing is, a few days later, the sign was gone. That's not a good sign...

So I did some research about Chase Bank's sustainability program. As of the time of writing this, they didn't have a single LEED certified project in New Jersey, and not much nationwide. What's the holdup guys?

There was a page on their website about Chase Bank's Sustainability Program and their commitment to being more sustainable, including having 13 LEED certified projects by 2010. Maybe time to update the website Chase! I might be missing something here, but once again it seems like they missed a great opportunity to build green and actually prove it. I guess the sign was taken down because even they knew it was meaningless.

Does a bank's sustainability program really matter?

While their construction might not directly dictate where I bank, it is part of my overall thoughts towards selecting who I want to do business with. If I have the choice, I’d rather do business with those who share the same commitment to the environment and sustainability that I do, and who demonstrate it with real action, not just words on a sign.

With real commitments on everyone’s part, and perhaps new regulations like those of Killeen, Texas, don’t be surprised to see more environmentally-friendly concrete in use, and less oceans of asphalt. It's going to positively impact businesses, the environment, and help sway consumers towards your operation.

All in all, sustainability matters, and people who are passing it off as a fad are going to look foolish soon. Are you looking to take steps towards a greener future, with practical, realistic sustainable practices? To learn more about how you can get started in the right direction, click here to contact us or give us a call at 609-693-8301 to discuss your needs today.


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