PeoplesBank recently issued its annual Corporate Green Report in conjunction with Earth Day 2019. Through its green values and actions to support environmental sustainability, PeoplesBank believes it can help make the region a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family. The bank puts these values to work throughout the year through its charitable donations, volunteerism, support of green-energy projects, and construction of LEED-certified offices.
“As a mutual bank, we are focused on our values of innovation, community support, environmental sustainability, and employee engagement,” said Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “Environmental sustainability is really the meeting place of all those other values. It is a way we can be innovative, support the community, and engage our associates in a way that is meaningful.”
Added Philippe Michaud, a loan service associate at PeoplesBank and co-chair of its environmental committee, “a business’ responsibility is to try and influence its communities toward being more sustainable. The environment is a core belief that is built into the fabric of our organization. That goes a long way toward what we do in the community.”
Community banks, like PeoplesBank, are not generally known for building green offices, but PeoplesBank has a LEED Gold-certified office in Northampton, a LEED Gold-certified office in West Springfield, and a LEED Silver-certified office in Springfield. The LEED-certified office in Springfield, the first of its kind in the city, won a Green Seal from the city of Springfield.
The bank’s newest branch in Holyoke will also seek LEED certification once construction has finished. Pursuing that objective means the new branch will be constructed and operated as a green building. Some of the highlights include:
• Reuse of a portion of the existing Yankee Pedlar building (the historic Hildreth House);
• Reduction rainwater runoff on the site and use of landscaping that requires no irrigation;
• Use of low-flow water fixtures and high-efficiency HVAC; and
• Use of building materials that have low or zero volatile organic compounds and are sourced locally where possible.
In addition, the exterior wall is highly efficient and allows for the flow of air vapor in two directions, meaning the wall will ‘breathe’ throughout the year, leading to a cleaner indoor environment.
Three PeoplesBank offices (Northampton, West Springfield, and 330 Whitney Ave. in Holyoke) have electric-vehicle-charging stations. The bank is also launching a “Choose to Reuse” campaign designed to eliminate the use of disposable paper products internally.
“As a mutual bank, we are focused on our values of innovation, community support, environmental sustainability, and employee engagement. Environmental sustainability is really the meeting place of all those other values. It is a way we can be innovative, support the community, and engage our associates in a way that is meaningful.”
During the past year, PeoplesBank was recognized by Independent Banker magazine for its environmental sustainability efforts and, for the fifth year in a row, the bank was voted “Best Green Local Business” by Daily Hampshire Gazette readers. The bank is also a past recipient of the Sustainable Business of the Year Award and Associated Industries of Massachusetts’ Sustainability Award.
Over the course of the last year, PeoplesBank provided more than $58,000 in support for green initiatives in Western Mass., including:
• A mobile farmers’ market that travels to underserved and food-desert areas of Springfield and surrounding communities;
• The Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture Food for All campaign;
• The Center for EcoTechnology’s Eco Fellows and support of over 100 community education events;
• The annual Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut River, which also includes hands-on participation by a team of volunteers from the bank;
• The Mount Holyoke Wetlands Restoration Project, conducted by Restoration Ecology Summer Scholars;
• Scientific environmental education at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment; and
• ValleyBike, the region’s new bike-sharing program.
PeoplesBank is also a longtime leader in sustainable-energy financing, and the bank’s commercial lenders are recognized for their expertise in creating financing packages for green-energy power generation. To date, the bank has financed more than $183 million in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power-generation projects, an increase of $17 million in just one year.