Bank of America resets emissions, green building goals

After cutting greenhouse gas emissions for its U.S. operations by 18 percent between 2004 and 2009, the company aims for a 15 percent cut across its global operations.

Financial services giant Bank of America is aiming to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent between now and 2015, working off a 2010 baseline number. That aggressive goal is the second major wave of the company's commitment to carbon footprint reductions: Bank of America actually already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent between 2004 and 2009 in its U.S. operations. The new goal pertains to the company's global operations.

One major way that Bank of America plans to pull this off is by focusing on better managing its facilities. By 2015, the bank is pushing to  have 20 percent of its buildings certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Right now, 11 percent of its real estate, or 13.2 million square feet, complies with LEED policies. In a statement, Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, said:

"The company has systematically leveraged every aspect of green practices throughout their entire workplace building stock to help them standardize their energy efficiency and achieve their carbon reduction goals."

One particularly strong example of that equipment is the company's office tower in New York City, which is registered for a Platinum LEED certification -- the highest one you can earn. Among the notable features of the design: a 5.1-megawatt onsite cogeneration system. The building is supposed to use about half the energy of a comparable office tower, in part because of the novel ice-cooled system that it uses for climate control.

Technology investments will also be a big part of the next greenhouse gas emissions reduction phase, including:

  • Expanded use of energy management systems
  • An heightened focus on improving the energy efficiency of Bank of America data centers and desktop/notebook computers
  • More attention to HVAC and lighting technologies

One aspect of the new plan that I think will be particularly effective is Bank of America's recognition that it needs to encourage changes to employee behavior in order to help pull this off. For example, since 2007, the company has given U.S.-based employees a $3,000 reimbursement toward the purchase of hybrid, "highway-capable" electric vehicles or those running on natural gas. So far, more than 3,800 employees have taken advantage of that program.

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