Last night, GRID Alternatives honored Wells Fargo at its 10th Anniversary celebration in San Francisco. Barry Neal, head of Environmental Finance for Wells Fargo, proudly accepted the award on behalf of the company. Alongside the Wells Fargo team, the city of San Francisco, California Public Utilities Commission, and Pacific Gas & Electric Company also were honored at the event, where many supporters gathered to celebrate 10 years of great work bringing solar energy to underserved communities.
Barry Neal (far left), Head of Environmental Finance at Wells Fargo, accepts an award with other honorees at GRID Alternatives 10th anniversary event.
In case you didn’t know, since 2007, Wells Fargo team members have contributed more than 1,800 volunteer hours to GRID Alternatives, while also helping and exploring innovative financing models to help the nonprofit deploy more residential solar systems. Seven years ago, Wells Fargo donated $600,000 to help GRID Alternatives expand from one office to seven offices throughout California. Then, we really got down to business in 2012, when Wells Fargo made a $2 million commitment to help bring clean, affordable solar energy to underserved communities in other states nationwide.
In 2012, GRID expanded to Colorado. And, last year they expanded to New Jersey and New York. Wells Fargo volunteers participated in 12 Solarthon projects last year in California, Colorado., New York, and New Jersey to install residential solar systems in collaboration with communities and local organizations. We estimate that Wells Fargo volunteers (and friends and family) contributed more than 530 volunteer hours in 2013 to support GRID Alternatives Solarthons and builds.
As a result, in 2013, the total number of homes that received solar energy systems was:
California = 1021;
New York / New Jersey =7
The systems installed in 2013 will generate about $29 million in energy savings for the families over the next 30 years in California, Colorado, New York and New Jersey.
During 2013, 1,050 families (or approximately 2,940 individuals) received solar energy systems with the help of GRID, Wells Fargo, and our community and philanthropic partners. In addition, GRID provided more than 64,000 hours of hands-on training to community members and job trainees. GRID Alternatives had more than 2,568 distinct volunteers participate in our program during 2013 (many working on multiple projects). Thanks to Wells Fargo’s support of our Green Jobs Partnership Program in California, the organization worked with more than 70 job training organizations throughout the state, providing more than 180 private solar workday trainings for their students.
Along with the private field trainings for workforce development partners, GRID Alternatives’ Subcontractor Partnership Program (SPP) requires that for profit solar subcontractors hire at least one local job trainee for each GRID Alternatives project. As a result, during 2013, 341 paid work opportunities were created for job trainees.
So, with these results you can imagine how proud we are of this award and our work to support GRID Alternatives. We can’t imagine what will happen in another 10 years. Congratulations on 10 wonderful years GRID!
We’d love to hear your thoughts about solar energy. Please share your suggestions in the comments field below.
I’m so proud of the work of our environmental affairs team – we are small, but mighty. This week, Krista Van Tassel, head of Environmental Affairs team member & community engagement programs, is a featured guest blogger for True Impact.
We began working with True Impact in 2012 to help us measure the social, financial, and environmental return on investment (ROI) of our environmental affairs efforts. One of the first products of our collaboration with True Impact was the Green Team ROI calculator.
You can learn more about our recent successes in Krista’s featured blog here.
On Jan. 17, 2014, Gerry Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency for California water supplies. This came after an arid November/December/January following the driest year in recorded state history. I live in San Francisco, an area surrounded by salt water that draws its drinking water supply from Hetch Hetchy Dam and the Tahoe snow pack. Our celebrated agriculture draws its water from the Central Valley aquifers.
As I type this, we are thankfully receiving our first extended period of rain in almost a year. Many of my neighbors are splashing in the streets, happy to see the much-needed precipitation that may not only save our mountain ski season but will also replenish our drinking water supply.
Yet despite the weekend of rain, we are still at only 40% of our regular rainfall for this time of year. That means the drought warnings will continue. And we are not alone. Many other states and countries struggle to manage a limited and often shrinking water supply in a growing world. Without water, we won’t have the ability to grow the food we need or generate the energy we require. And water is vital to our very survival. Given the current, dire water situation in California and elsewhere, what can we do to help conserve this precious resource?
To help make sense of what you can/can’t do, we’ve compiled a few quick tips (some old, some new) to hopefully inspire us all to use only what we need.
Water may not be top of mind at work, but we can all take many steps that will help save this important resource during our nine-to-five.
Turn off the faucet while you lather your hands – The EPA’s WaterSense program estimates that letting your faucet run for just 5 minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run continuously for 14 hours. It also wastes water as the average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute. Turning off the tap while you lather the soap (or brush your teeth) can save up to 8 gallon of water per day, or 240 gallons per month.
Refill your water bottle from the tap instead of buying new – Bottled water has increasingly become a part of daily life. But this wasn’t always the case and the proliferation of bottled water helps contribute to our ongoing water shortage. The Sierra Club estimates that it takes 3 liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water because water is used in the purification process and also to produce the plastic/glass packaging. Bottled water also creates more waste that can often contaminate fresh water sources such as streams and lakes. It also costs more. So instead of reaching for the convenience of bottled water, get a stainless steel or BPA-free container and refill for free using your local (and more sustainable) kitchen faucet.
Turn off the lights – According to the EPA, Energy production accounts for 49% of all water used in the United States. Turn off things not in use like your computer monitor, conference room and office lights, and break-area appliances. The simple action of turning things off will help save money, greenhouse gas emissions and water.
We all know the tips of purchasing more energy/water efficient appliances or installing drought-tolerant landscaping, but if you aren’t in the market for a remodel (or you don’t have a yard), try these tips instead:
Save “used” water to keep plants hydrated – It might seem odd, but your plants will welcome the water you use from rinsing vegetables and fruits or boiling pasta. It will provide them with great nourishment while saving water.
Soak your dishes instead of scrubbing – If you were looking for an excuse to slack off on dish duty, consider this your best tip. Instead of scrubbing pans under running water to remove residue, let them soak instead (overnight even for tough ones). You’ll get more after-work relaxation time, simplify the dishwashing task for the morning, and save water.
Don’t wash your clothes (or dishes) frequently – This idea will help you save your clothes, energy and water (as well as limit detergent pollutants reaching existing water supplies). Most clothes (especially jeans) aren’t intended to be washed after every use. So skip the scrub and wear your items several times before throwing them in the laundry bin. Same for dishes: consider designating one water glass for use each day or week. Refill the glass as you need it and only wash it when you have a full load of dishes (in the dishwasher or sink). Same goes for your laundry – save running the machine until you have a full load of dirty clothes to clean.
In the community…
We can all help conserve and protect water in our communities as well. Think about organizing one of these volunteer projects to preserve fresh water.
Build a community garden – Food uses a tremendous amount of water to produce (and then package and ship to your local supermarket). Supporting a local community garden or farmers’ market can be a wonderful way to raise awareness of water issues while helping the community. Find one in your area through American Community Gardening Association.
Plant a tree – Did you know that trees serve as a natural filter for the soil (and therefore our ground water) by storing or changing potentially harmful pollutants into less harmful forms. Trees also help to prevent soil erosion into our water ways. Volunteer to plant trees with The Arbor Day Foundation.
Clean-up a shoreline – Keeping contamination out of our oceans and rivers is an important way to protect water supplies. Clean-up projects not only help reduce litter, but can also remove invasive species that can harm the bio-diversity and water supply of a region. Help clean up the shores through The Surfrider Foundation.
We’d love to hear more tips from you on creative ways to save water. Please share your suggestions in the comments field below. Or let us know if you tried a tip and how it went!
As part of our 2012 commitment, we set aggressive goals to achieve by 2020, including LEED certification of 35% of our real estate portfolio. As a large, geographically dispersed company, we have many sites and locations to assess. Today, we have reached 10% of our LEED certification goal and are on track to meet the 2020 target, as well as our other operational efficiency objectives in the next few years.
Not only is Wells Fargo certifying our new buildings, but also our existing real estate portfolio, by seeking LEED EB: O&M (Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance) . This separate rating system encourages building operators to implement sustainable practices and reduce the overall environmental impact of their real estate operations. It is a comprehensive approach that looks at everything from how a building manager like Wells Fargo diverts waste and manages irrigation systems to indoor air quality and energy efficiency projects. Points are awarded based on the effectiveness of these efforts.
In 2013, we certified nine of our large corporate offices through LEED EB: O&M:
Duke Energy Center, Charlotte (Platinum)
550 California Street, San Francisco (Gold)
Customer Information Center, Charlotte (Gold)
Legacy Place Customer Service Center, Orlando, Fla. (Gold)
Three Wells Fargo Center, Charlotte (Gold)
Wabash Administration Center, Springfield, Ill. (Gold)
Wells Fargo Customer Service Center, Salem, Ore. (Silver)
This was an aggressive effort led by our amazing corporate properties team here at Wells Fargo. But, they didn’t go it alone. Perhaps what I am personally most proud of is that this certification included the addition of a new Innovation credit focused on the work of our Wells Fargo Green Teams.
To achieve this LEED credit, we worked closely with the USGBC to document the work the work of our Green Teams at each certifying location. We leveraged our Green Team business plans to share our Green Team’s efforts with the USGBC and report on any operational or community impacts that were achieved.
For some time, we’ve been striving to create a Wells Fargo culture of sustainability that encourages and empowers our 270,000 team members to be environmentally mindful in all that they do – from supporting community volunteer projects to helping us reach our operational goals. For many of our LEED locations, team members were directly responsible for helping us meet specific credits. For example, team members at our 550 California Street location in San Francisco, Calif., helped us reduce our commute trips by 86% through the use of public transit and biking. And, our Green Team in Orlando, Fla., helped the company achieve a waste diversion goal of 99% at their offices at Legacy Place Customer Service Center thanks to their recycling education program.
Recycling and reuse programs at the Legacy Place Customer Information Center in Orlando, Fla., have diverted 99% of waste from area landfills.
Our 70+ Green Teams create a business plan each year. As part of the plan, we ask each team to commit to at least one project focused on our corporate operational goals each year. These projects focus on themes like water, waste, commute options, paper reduction or energy efficiency – all tied to our corporate goals . We also equip our teams with materials such as presentation templates and manager talking points for each eco theme. Teams are encouraged to use the materials as resources for hosting lunch-and-learn events, presentations at team meetings, or creating newsletters and posters to raise awareness or encourage environmental behaviors. Green Teams also develop creative project ideas focused on conserving water, reducing paper use, diverting waste, encouraging “greener” commute habits and decreasing energy consumption.
Documenting grassroots engagement can be a challenge, but our efforts paid off when we achieved this additional, important credit for our LEED efforts. What’s more, pursuing this new opportunity created a more collaborative relationship between team members working at our building locations and our corporate properties teams, as it encouraged our Green Teams to directly engage in our LEED work while allowing our real estate experts to share their knowledge of operational efficiency topics and showcase some of their behind-the-scenes work such as lighting retrofits or heating system updates.
We look forward to sharing our Green Team Innovation Credit approach through the USGBC so that more organizations with grassroots engagement programs like ours can leverage this work. We are excited that this program can provide a credit template for others and would welcome Environmental Forum reader feedback and ideas on how we can improve our Green Team program.
Please share your thoughts through the comments field below.
Please help me welcome back Wells Fargo Regional Communicator Tom Unger. A veteran of the company for more than 20 years, Tom manages internal and external communication for Oregon and S.W. Washington. He’s a New York native who has worked in journalism and corporate communications for more than 35 years and has earned close to 30 communications awards. (PH)
Going “green” meant getting lots of “green” for one of our customers: Amy Ramstead of Portland, Ore.
I was happy recently to share one of those feel-good moments with Amy as we presented her a large prize check for $25,000.
Amy’s decision to bank paperless not only has reduced waste for the environment, but also led to her winning the grand prize in the Wells Fargo Online® Statements sweepstakes.
Amy and other customers automatically were entered into the national sweepstakes when switching to “Online Only Statements” last November during the promotional period (25 other customers won $500 Wells Fargo Visa® Gift Cards). The sweepstakes attracted almost 105,000 entries.
Amy said she believes in going paperless because she doesn’t have to worry about anyone going through her garbage and finding statements or losing them because they’re always online.
She and her husband plan to use the winnings to pay for a bathroom remodel and some trips.
From left to right: Community Banking District Manager Andre Moreno, Service Manager Amanda Ha, customer Amy Ramstead, and Service Manager Victoria Bardakova.
Mary Wenzel, head of Environmental Affairs, said together with customers like Amy, Wells Fargo is making environmentally sustainable changes that will have a lasting impact.
The sweepstakes is one of many ways Wells Fargo encourages customers to join us in protecting the environment. Since the introduction of online statements five years ago, our customers have helped save more than 492,000 trees.*
And in 2013, Wells Fargo made online statements the default option for new banking accounts so that customers automatically receive online statements and must “opt-in” to receive paper statements.
In addition, online statements reduce fraud and are more convenient than the paper alternative.
Last September, Wells Fargo celebrated the results of another paperless endeavor: the 1 billionth paperless ATM transaction since 2009. About 475 times every minute, customers choose not to print a receipt for their transactions at Wells Fargo ATMs. Paperless options include electronic receipt via email to online banking or personal email address, phone text message, or no receipt at all.
I’m honored to report that it’s saved enough ATM paper to circle the globe … twice! Here’s one more paperless milestone: at the end of 2011 Wells Fargo upgraded all deposit-taking ATMs nationwide to be envelope-free. The last one to be converted was in … Portland, Ore.
We have reduced paper waste in our retail banking stores, too. All of our retail bank branches accept paperless withdrawals; 88 percent of withdrawals currently use this electronic option. Customers can also select an e-receipt or a no-receipt option, similar to their ATM experience.
Do you still receive your banking account statements through the mail? If you’re a Wells Fargo customer, log onto www.wellsfargo.com and learn how to switch to online statements; or ask your financial institution to switch you to online statements.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on creative approaches to reduce paper waste within our operations. Please tell us what you think about this initiative or share your ideas through the comments section below.
*Provided statements are not printed at home. Environmental impact estimates were made using the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator Version 3.2. For more information, visit www.papercalculator.org .
Many of you are aware of Wells Fargo Green Teams, our volunteer-driven groups dedicated to helping Wells Fargo conserve resources, reduce waste and promote environmental awareness at work and in the community. Last year was a banner year for our more than 70 teams.
From running energy efficiency campaigns and recycling programs to managing community volunteer events and supporting our LEED® certification work, our Wells Fargo Green Teams helped our company save money, support community groups and preserve the environment through their local projects.
Some results from 2013 include:
Helping Wells Fargo achieve our 65% waste reduction goal by hosting a number of recycling events and education campaigns to increase awareness and use of local options. These activities diverted an estimated 1 million pounds of personal and office waste from landfills, as reported by local waste haulers and Green Teams.
Delivering on our goal to increase energy efficiency by 40%. Locally run energy campaigns encouraged team members to turn off monitors, change out light bulbs and support US GBC LEED® certification efforts. Green Team-led campaigns in Charlotte, N.C., and Frederick, M.D., helped Wells Fargo save an estimated $62,000, as calculated by local estimated kWh savings and energy rates.
Reducing our Scope3 emissions through alternative transportation campaigns, which reduced gasoline consumption by more than 1,400 gallons, keeping roughly 12.6 metric tons of CO2 from the environment. These efforts helped us achieve our goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 35% by 2020 based on our 2008 baseline results.
Increasing volunteer efforts with our Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant program. We set a philanthropy goal in 2012 to increase environmental giving to $100 million by 2020. In 2013, our Wells Fargo Green Teams gave more than $51,000 in additional sweat equity, which is calculated using a current volunteer wage of $22.14/hour. For more information view: http://www.independentsector.org/volunteer_time .
Achieving LEED certification in nine of our administrative buildings 2013. Active teams at each location helped Wells Fargo qualify for a LEED Innovation credit, the first of its kind and now a blueprint for other companies.
We prepared a video highlighting some of our Green Team projects to help you learn more about efforts to reduce waste and protect the environment through community volunteerism.
Finally, I am excited to share some of the 2013 results from a few of our Green Teams.
Uptown Charlotte, NC – The Uptown Charlotte Green Team hosted a national event with Stu Ostro, an award-winning meteorologist and expert on climate change and weather patterns from The Weather Channel, for Wells Fargo team members. The team also hosted a number of operational and community projects resulting in 325 volunteer hours, 410 lbs. of batteries recycled, 169 lbs. of plastic bags recycled, 857,000 lbs. of office paper recycled, 115,000 lbs. of cardboard recycled, and 30,000 lbs. of cans and bottles recycled. By helping set monitors to sleep mode or encouraging team members to turn them off completely, the team also helped raise awareness of energy issues for an estimated $31,000 in annual energy savings.
El Monte, CA –
The El Monte, Calif., Green Team in Southern Calif., helped bring eco topics to the community and their office. For Earth Day, the team participated in a Smart Gardening/Compost Workshop and Food/Clothing Drive to benefit an estimated 50 families in the underserved El Monte region. The team also supported a paper shred event that resulted in approximately 3,100 lbs. of paper diverted from landfills and proper recycling. Their Earth Day celebration also included an environmental storybook and t-shirt decorating book, which helped the team draw an audience of approximately 2,000 team and community members. The team further supported the campus-wide implementation of our Managed Print Program, which seeks to replace old printers with new, more efficiency models and reduce overall paper and print expenses. By installing LED lighting and dimming controls in offices, the team also supported our Corporate Properties work resulting in more than 50% energy savings annually. And, if that wasn’t enough for 2013, the team also will participate in the company’s Continuous Energy Improvement program, an effort to establish a local energy team that will help with future reduction projects and education.
Frederick, MD – The Maryland Green Team hosted a number of community events, including a river clean-up, a tree planting and supporting two Rebuilding Together projects. By running a supply closet clean-up that provided office items to a local school and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, the team also focused on operational projects. For Bike-to-Work Day, outreach efforts increased participation by 50%. And, the team organized a Monitor the Monitor campaign to reduce energy usage on the Frederick, MD, campus by 98.2 kWh or approximately $1,525 in energy savings (more than $31,000 annually), or the equivalent of 153 lbs. of CO2 (or an estimated 211 metric tons of CO2 annually).
Salt Lake City, UT – Based in Salt Lake City, the Utah Green Team hosted many events designed to raise awareness of environmental issues at the office and in the community. Some of their best operational efforts included a focus on double-sided printing and paper reduction, battery recycling, and energy conservation through the Kill-A-Watt program. The team also brought community education to campus, promoting ride share discounts with UTA Trax passes and sponsoring both an Eco Fair and a Diversity event, which reached an estimated 300 team members. The team also helped beautify campus by hosting an Earth Walk clean-up and installing 20 “green” parking spaces for team members who carpool or drive fuel efficient vehicles.
St. Louis, MO - The St. Louis, Mo., Green Team based within the Wells Fargo Advisors (WFA) won the RCGA’s Green Business Challenge award for the third year in a row. The team supported $200,000 in Wells Fargo environmental grants to Operation Brightside, the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the local chapter of the USGBC by providing more than 1,000 volunteer hours for these organizations and others. At the WFA campus, which houses more than 5,000 team members, the Green Team helped boost energy efficiency by 4.3%, reduced water usage by 10%, and increased the waste diversion to 65.85%, by introducing compost for the kitchen and yard waste.
Salem, OR - The Green Team for Salem, Ore., launched in 2013 and helped Wells Fargo achieve LEED® certification for their property. The team also helped support the community by participating in the SOLVE Beach and Riverside Clean Up in September. And, the improved office sustainability by focusing on recycling, developing a site-wide recycling and compost program, and collaborating with corporate properties to improve signage, bin placement and education through the quarterly “Trash Talk” newsletter.
Wells Fargo Green Teams focus on both community and office projects to help support our company’s environmental commitment. In Miami, our South Florida Green Team came up with a unique solution to supporting coastal restoration while also raising awareness of environmental issues at work.
The Miami Science Museum (now known as the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science), which received a Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities grant in 2012, needed help from volunteers for its fall project to collect mangrove seeds (called propaguls) that would be cultivated then replanted to help restore the coast line. Mangroves are a highly visible feature for tropical Florida and they serve an important ecological purpose by helping to protect coastal areas from erosion and storm surges, as well as create a healthy environment for fish, birds and reptiles.
Volunteers navigated the coastlines of Biscayne Bay before planting the propagul seedlings.
Our Miami Green Team used the call for volunteers as a way to build awareness of their new 2013 Green Team and increase its membership.
In September, more than 45 team and family members gathered at Oleta State Park in North Miami Beach, to help collect mangrove seeds they would adopt to incubate at home. Because mangroves grow in coastal swamps, the team used kayaks to row through Biscayne Bay. Team members of the South Florida Green Team cared for several seedlings in the office.
In December, when the mangroves were ready for transfer to the swamps, the team organized a second volunteer event to plant more than 1,200 seedlings at a local park.
The seedlings were successfully planted in September 2013.
What’s more, the South Florida Green Team tripled its membership after using this unique volunteer event to generate interest in protecting the local environment through actions we can all take at work, at home and in the community.
Now that the team is up and running, it’s looking forward to future volunteer opportunities and office campaigns to keep the eco momentum moving in Miami.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on creative approaches to community and team engagement. Please tell us what you think about this project or share your ideas through the comments section below.
Please join me in welcoming our newest blogger Sustainability Strategist for Wells Fargo’s Corporate Properties Group (CPG) Curt Radkin. An architect by training, he now leads strategy development with corporate leaders across the company to engage in sustainable practices that will minimize the environmental impact of Wells Fargo’s 100 million square foot corporate real estate portfolio, which accounts for 85 percent of Wells Fargo’s GHG emissions. Curt leads research into innovative technologies to enhance the environmental performance of Wells Fargo properties and will share a recent success with our company’s water conservation efforts. (PH)
At Wells Fargo, we are working hard to conserve resources and lessen our impact on the environment. Efficient use of water is important to the communities we serve, and we’re working toward a company-wide goal of reducing our water use by 45 percent by the year 2020.
Through our research we found one area of our operation offers particularly significant water savings: the landscaping at our 9,000 stores. So we launched a pilot program in fall 2012 at 40 stores in California, Florida and Texas which returned astonishing results. Together, those stores saved more than 30 million gallons of water – and nearly $250,000 in utility costs – in just one year.
In the pilot, we used a new “smart” irrigation system, which uses a controller to replace a timer-based system that simply watered by time or set intervals on the clock, often resulting in over-watering. The new irrigation system, which uses a controller with a wireless transmitter and a coffee-cup-size weather station, monitors rainfall and a host of other details like soil and plant types. Using the data collected onsite, the smart system delivers water to our landscaping if and when it’s needed, and only in the amount needed.
New smart irrigation system
Because of the pilot’s success, we expanded the program to an additional 600 stores nationwide and selected locations with past water bills indicating the biggest potential for savings. At all these locations, we now expect to save more than 300 million gallons of water every year. That’s a reduction of more than 50 percent, and it adds up to a savings of more than $1.4 million in utility costs per year.
At Wells Fargo, we’re committed to helping communities succeed. We believe that, when those communities do well, we all benefit. As a leader in environmental sustainability, we’re committed to finding new ways to minimize our energy and water consumption and to help others to do the same.
Because of the program’s success at our retail stores, we have launched a second pilot at 12 of our large corporate campuses. Through eight months of this pilot, we have saved more than 20 million gallons of water. Eventually, we plan to install smart irrigation controls at our 3,000 retail banking stores that have irrigation systems and all of our corporate campuses, and we believe we could save more than a billion gallons of water each year.
This program has proven that we can save water and cut utility costs significantly, and that it can be replicated and scaled up. Wells Fargo is proud of the success of our smart irrigation program, and we hope that other organizations looking for cost-effective ways to reduce their environmental impact will consider installing these systems on their properties.
Please join me in welcoming our newest guest blogger Wells Fargo Regional Communicator for Oregon and S.W. Washington Tom Unger. A 20-year veteran of the company, Tom manages internal and external communications. He’s a New York native who has worked in journalism and corporate communications for more than 33 years and has earned close to 30 communications awards. (KVT)
Lil’ darling, here comes the sun (power)! Who would have thought something as hot as the sun would be the inspiration for such a cool way to improve public places?
Wells Fargo Oregon Region Community Affairs Manager Bernie Kronberger at Solar Forward press conference.
Oregon Region Community Affairs Manager Bernie Kronberger and I recently attended an event at City Hall, hosted by Mayor Charlie Hales, where he thanked Wells Fargo and a few other businesses for providing seed money to start the Solar Forward fund to install solar power systems at public sites.
Mayor Hales shared his excitement about Portland joining as a community to put solar on some of its most beloved public spaces – it is both a simple gesture and a powerful expression of our shared future.
I couldn’t agree more. Our participation in the Solar Forward fund is part of Wells Fargo’s ongoing work to help make our communities, our workplaces, and our economy more environmentally sustainable.
The city will use donations from community members and businesses to install new solar power systems in local public sites, including community centers, libraries and schools. A southwest Portland community center was one of the first sites to receive a system and the Oliver P. Lent Elementary School will receive its system when more funds are raised.
Renewable energy provides benefits to the community, from maintaining healthy air to the economic opportunity created for Portland’s small businesses and workers, according to Susan Anderson, director of the City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
Since 2005, Wells Fargo has provided more than $21 billion in environmental finance to support sustainable buildings and renewable energy projects nationwide. This includes investments in more than 260 solar projects and 34 wind projects that generate enough clean renewable energy to power hundreds of thousands of American homes each year.
Solar Forward’s first installation at SW Community Center. Photo credit: EC Company and City of Portland.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but – together with leaders like Bernie, our customers, our communities and the cities like Portland – we can make positive changes. I hope this is a trend other companies will get behind to lend their financial support for more sustainable and healthy communities.
Earlier this year, we told you about an internal contest we ran in our biking hubs at Wells Fargo: San Francisco, CA; Denver, CO; Charlotte, NC; Portland, OR; and the Twin Cities of St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN. Our plan was to inspire our team members to try biking this summer in the hopes that it might “stick” and inspire them to bike year-round – no small feat for some of our regions like Denver or Minnesota affected by winter weather!
To kick off the challenge, we worked with Amy Harcourt, co-founder of Bikes Make Life Better, to deliver a special presentation for our team members focused on the basics of bike commuting. What’s more, Amy graciously agreed to offer Environmental Forum readers a series of posts that focused on topics like why bikes are important and selecting the right equipment to trial run guidance and expert advice on sharing the road. As a personal challenge, I also promised to bike to work myself – at least once a week during the initial challenge month of May.
Today, we are excited to share the results of our bike experiment and some great resources to help you create your own bike commute resolution in 2014. And, I’ll even share a few lessons learned from my own commute experience as a biking newbie in San Francisco.
Members of the Wells Fargo Twin Cities Biking Team at our MN Campus