Wells Fargo Earns LEED Silver Pre-Certification for New Banks

Wells Fargo Earns LEED Silver Pre-Certification for New Banks

Wells Fargo & Company has been awarded LEED Silver pre-certification for construction of new banking stores that will slash energy use by 20 percent and water consumption by 40 percent, the financial services firm said.

The targets for energy and water savings were among the eco-conscious elements featured in the prototype that earned Wells Fargo its pre-certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) standards for new construction set by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

"Wells Fargo has been a large supporter of the green building movement throughout the years and was a pioneer participant in the USGBC Portfolio Pilot Program," said Rick Fedrizzi, the USGBC president, CEO and founding chair.

"We appreciate their dedication as we set out to conserve energy and other natural resources through green building practices," Fedrizzi said in a statement released yesterday with Wells Fargo's announcement of its pre-certification rating.

According to the USGBC, buildings are responsible for 39 percent of CO2 emissions in the United States, directly affecting climate change, and use 71 percent of the nation's electricity every year. "However," Fredrizzi said, "case studies show that LEED buildings are consuming half the energy of conventional buildings."

Going forward based on the pre-certified prototype, 20 percent of the building materials used in Wells Fargo's newly constructed banks will be made of post- and pre-consumer recycled content, the company said.

Seventy-five percent of wood-based materials used will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as having come from forests and factories that are managed according to environmentally responsible principles. All wood used must also be council certified as having been domestically harvested.

In addition, the new structures must involve accountability measures for energy consumption to ensure that savings targets are met. The company based the required reductions in energy and water consumption on comparisons to usage in traditional structures.

Wells Fargo obtained its pre-certification through the USGBC's Portfolio Pilot Program. The company is one of 40 corporations and institutions participating in the 2-year-old program to help firms green their building portfolios by using a streamlined certification process that is based on pre-approval of designs meeting LEED standards.  

"This is another example of our commitment to environmental stewardship, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Carrie Tolstedt, head of Wells Fargo Community Banking, said in a statement.

The firm's silver-rated pre-certification, which was effective July 7, was about nine months in the making, Wells Fargo spokeswoman Stephanie Rico told GreenerBuildings.  The pre-certification standards for newly constructed banks apply to building sites and the structures' interior and exterior, she said.

The rating Wells Fargo received is the second of four under the LEED rating system: certified, silver, gold and platinum, the highest designation possible.  In May, Office Depot became the first company to achieve volume certification in the pilot program for a retail store design prototype. Also in May, three Citi locations became the first in the program to receive pre-certification for a retail commercial interior prototype. Twenty-seven other CitiFinancial and Citibank branches were designed with same features and are seeking LEED certification.

"Wells Fargo has been incorporating environmentally responsible elements into its structures for four years," Rico said, adding that achieving LEED pre-certification "helps us better communicate our commitment."

The pre-certification award is the latest development in the company's history of environmental efforts. Earlier this month, the diversified financial services company marked the third anniversary of its "10-Point Environmental Commitment"  with the announcement that it had joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leaders program and had adopted the "Carbon Principles," guidelines for banks to evaluate and address climate change risks in financing electric power projects and companies.