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Wells Fargo Aims to Slash GHG Emissions 20 Percent

Wells Fargo & Company is upping the ante on its environmental commitments by targeting a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2018, based on 2008 levels.

Installing solar power systems at various branches and retrofitting banking sites are among the steps the company says it will take to reach the new goal, which the firm announced today.

In setting the target, Wells Fargo is working to fulfill its pledge to shrink its carbon footprint. The firm had promised to do so when it joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leaders program last year.

Wells Fargo said it will install solar photovoltaic systems at 10 branches -- the company calls them banking stores -- in Denver. Collectively, the systems will generate about 300,000 kwh of energy a year, which in turn will result in avoiding the equivalent of 450,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to the company.

Through its merger with Wachovia, completed January 1, Wells Fargo also is expanding its green building program. So far, 16 of the Wachovia branches converting to the Wells Fargo brand are bring renovated and those projects have been registered in the LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) certification program. The upgrades are expected to produce energy and water savings of 15 percent at each site.

Wells Fargo's campaign to green its properties and conserve resources began almost a decade ago. Then in 2005, the company made a 10-point commitment to integrate environmental responsibility throughout its business.

The firm received a major nod for its efforts last month when it placed among the top companies in Newsweek'sl Green Rankings.

Also in September, a new Wells Fargo bank branch in Manhattan Beach, Calif., attained gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. The gold rating, which is the second highest of four possible LEED certification levels, exceeded expectations; the design prototype for the company's new branches had been pre-certified at the LEED-Silver level.

Wells Fargo said other measures to achieve its 2018 goal and deliver on its 10-point environmental commitment include:

  •  Encouraging customers to go paperless by choosing online-only statements and not using envelopes when making deposits.
  •  Educating and engaging employees about reducing energy consumption at work and at home.
  •  Buying energy efficient office and building equipment and taking energy consumption into consideration in requests for proposals from suppliers.
  •  Taking greater advantage of video conferencing to reduce business air travel.
  •  Managing data centers for energy efficiency.

In terms of supporting other firms' efforts to green their businesses, Wells Fargo has provided more than $5 billion in environmental financing since 2006. The company surged past the $3 billion mark in loans and investments for businesses' environmental projects last December -- which put the company far beyond its commitment to finance more than $1 billion in Earth-friendly projects. The company said today $1.6 billion in financing has gone to solar and wind projects and $3 billion for LEED-certified buildings.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user saturnism


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