Oakland, CA /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - California consumers will be the first in the nation to experience new "green" Wachovia financial centers this fall. Wachovia Corp. plans to open its first eight green banking offices in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara and Riverside counties in California, starting in November 2007.
The offices are part of a larger green building plan the financial services firm launched this month. Wachovia based in Charlotte, NC, plans to build at least 300 green financial centers, in accordance with LEED® certification standards, by the year 2010. California offices will begin opening in 2007, and by the end of 2008, every new Wachovia financial center opened throughout the United States will be built to LEED specifications.
"Wachovia is committed to preserving natural resources and doing our part to protect the environment," says Frank Newman III, CEO for Wachovia's Western Banking Group, which includes California, Arizona and Nevada. "This is just one more way we are acting in local communities to make a measurable and immediate impact. We're proud to start this great work in California, which is leading the way in energy and resource conservation."
The 300 green financial centers will reduce energy use by at least 20 percent, decreasing harmful greenhouse gas emissions by 6,000 tons per year-the equivalent of taking 1,200 cars off the road or planting 140,000 tree seedlings. The new buildings will consume 25 percent less water than traditionally built branches and provide a healthier, more productive environment for customers and employees through use of low-toxin building materials and better indoor air quality. Wachovia will implement an employee recycling program in each branch for paper, plastics, aluminum and glass. Branches also will feature preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles, bike racks and commuting information such as safe bike routes and public transit maps. In addition, Wachovia will purchase Renewable Energy Certificates to offset the power use of its green branches and boost investment in renewable energy.
"Our green building efforts are the right thing to do for the planet and our children, and also a smart business decision," notes Karen Curtin, head of Wachovia's Branch and Network Management team. "By using environmentally friendly materials, we will reduce our energy use and operating costs. And even more important, our financial centers will have a positive impact on local communities."
Wachovia expects to save up to $80,000 in construction costs for each of the new financial centers over a traditionally constructed branch, in addition to a reduction in operating costs of about 20 percent in the first year. The energy savings are due in part to use of environmentally friendly construction materials, including unique panel board that is made of wheat straw, a farming by-product that is typically wasted and burned. The wheat board panels are highly insulated, mold-resistant and tested with tornado-force winds. The panels are prefabricated off-site, reducing construction time by an average of three weeks.
Wachovia's green branch commitment also extends to new financial centers in leased space. For new leased properties, Wachovia will pursue a LEED Commercial Interiors Retail certification, the green benchmark for tenant improvements.
These developments come seven months after Wachovia announced its comprehensive environmental protection strategy (see Oct. 26, 2006, press release at www.wachovia.com). That strategy includes a commitment to reduce Wachovia's carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent from 2005 levels by 2010. Wachovia also adopted the Equator Principles to mitigate the social and environmental risk factors associated with financing certain corporate client projects.
Wachovia also is building a 1.2 million-square-foot office tower at its headquarters in Charlotte, in accordance with gold-level LEED certification standards. This state-of-the-art building will feature a green (vegetated) roof, will harvest rainwater for site irrigation and will use automatic lighting controls that dim when the sun is on the building.
Wachovia Corp. is one of the nation's largest diversified financial services companies, providing a broad range of retail banking and brokerage, asset and wealth management, and corporate and investment banking products and services. Wachovia has retail and commercial banking operations in 21 states with 3,400 retail banking offices from Connecticut to Florida and west to Texas and California. In addition, two core businesses operate under the Wachovia Securities brand name: retail brokerage with 768 offices in 48 states and service affiliate offices in Latin America, and corporate and investment banking serving clients in selected corporate and institutional sectors globally.
Source: Wachovia Corp. (www.wachovia.com)
For more information, contact Mary Beth Navarro, (704) 374-2292, or Carrie Ruddy, (704) 383-5392, both of Wachovia Corp.