By Rebecca Sausner
Going green has become an enterprise-wide philosophy at People's Bank in Holyoke, MA. From the loans it makes, to its IT strategic plan, to employee engagement, the bank translates its mutual-owned business model into a deep sense of accountability.
The commitment to environmental sustainability is in the water in Holyoke, literally. Some 70 percent of the city's power from renewable sources - in this case hydropower from the Connecticut River. In the past several years, the bank has made loans for more than $22 million on projects that built wind farms and solar energy farms, as well as several hydroelectric projects. "We are looked at as the bank that can get these projects done," says Doug Bowen, president and CEO. "It's an odd niche, but a profitable one for the bank."
Internally, the bank formed an environmental committee and focuses on employee education and training, says Xiaolei Hua, project management officer at People's. In 2008, the committee launched an internal newsletter focused on environmental issues; implemented electronic rate sheets for its weekly updates; installed motion-detecting lights; began utilizing 30 percent recycled paper in several departments; and partnered with a ridesharing organization.
And the tech department has whole-heartedly embraced virtualization. The bank is deploying a new storage area network with replication offsite, and plans to take its critical application server count down by about 50 percent with a VMware implementation, says Joe Zazzaro, first vp of information technology. Desktop virtualization will follow, starting first in a new branch as a way to "really cut back on powers consumption and needs at remote locations and branch locations," Zazzaro says.
This article can also be found at AmericanBanker.com.

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