Wells Fargo Financing of Green Buildings Gallops Beyond $2 Billion

Wells Fargo Financing of Green Buildings Gallops Beyond $2 Billion

Wells Fargo & Company has doubled its commitment to high performance, LEED-certified buildings in the past 19 months, bringing its total financing of green structures to more than $2 billion, the firm said today.

In all, Wells Fargo has financed 45 projects in the past five years — 25 of them since May 2007 — that have been certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

"Our success is a result of doing business with experienced developers and investors," Larry Chapman, head of Commercial Real Estate at Wells Fargo, said in a statement about the milestone attained by his company.

Wells Fargo's announcement of its expanded lending for eco-friendly construction comes at a watershed moment for green building. Advocates hailed the victory of President-elect Barack Obama and his promise of unprecedented commitment to advanced energy technology and economic renewal fueled by green jobs. The question remains, however, of whether the market will cooperate.

At Wells Fargo, Chapman said, "Current market conditions provide us with the opportunity to further demonstrate our unwavering commitment to our commercial real estate customers. Together we can achieve long-term value for our businesses and our society though the development of high performance, resource-saving buildings."

The 45 green building projects involved loans ranging from $4.5 million to $225 million for construction in 19 states, Wells Fargo Assistant Vice President Stephanie Rico for Environmental Affairs told GreenerBuildings. The structures include office, mixed-use, industrial, retail, school and multifamily buildings, and more recently have extended to a cold storage facility, data center and community center.

Two-thirds of the projects were awarded LEED ratings of silver or greater. The four-tiered assessment and rating system starts at basic high performance LEED certification and proceeds to LEED Silver, LEED Gold and LEED Platinum, the highest designation possible. Of the projects financed by Wells Fargo, 37 percent achieved a LEED Silver rating; 21 percent, LEED Gold; and 9 percent, LEED Platinum, the company said.

USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi praised the diversified financial services company, saying "We applaud Wells Fargo's leadership efforts." Fedrizzi noted that while buildings are responsible for 39 percent of CO2 emissions in the U.S., LEED-certified structures consume about half the energy of conventional buildings.

Wells Fargo's green building financing is part of a larger environmental and corporate responsibility drive that includes an eco-friendly building plan for all new banks the firm constructs. Wells Fargo announced this past summer that it had obtained LEED pre-certification for a building design that results in 20 percent less energy use and 40 percent less water consumption than conventional buildings of comparable size.

Other efforts by Wells Fargo include support of green building education and practices through contributions of more than $500,000 to nonprofit organizations.