Community Banks

New Resource Has a Big Blueprint To Reduce its Carbon Footprint - and Win Over Clients

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As if preparing for a triathlon, New Resource Bank's quest for energy agility has resulted in an exhaustive plan that's enrolled executives, employees, customers, equipment, hardware and software in a green fitness club.

"We went to our vendors and providers and found out what they would recommend, to find out what's going on in the market in terms of energy reduction. They were a bit caught off guard. Most service providers aren't used to being approached for that purpose," says Robert Kluba, IT director of the $167 million-asset bank. Kluba says the result of that polling and other internal research led to a master green IT strategy for 2010 that touches practically every facet of the bank's operations. "We came up with the list of things we can do to make our business more sustainable."

The sweeping plan was developed over a three month period last year, and includes a collection of IT projects that even as standalones would reside at the forefront of emerging corporate energy strategy, such as refreshing older workstations and laptops with Energy Star 4.0 (government efficiency specs) compliance hardware; refreshing older server hardware with new "energy smart" servers-which reduce power draw; investing in networking equipment from Cisco to take advantage of Cisco EnergyWise; upgrading to Windows Vista and Windows 2008 Server to leverage new power management features; replacing surge protectors with energy saving models; instituting an asset recovery and recycling program for hardware; and developing a server and desktop virtualization strategy to consolidate servers and introduce thin clients to replace desktop PCs.

The server upgrades will be complete by the third quarter, while the virtualization project is slated for 2011. In yet another program, the bank will deploy IReuse, a product that tracks employee travel and monitors electronic waste.

One of the key initiatives involves the use of Cisco's EnergyWise, which measures the power use of devices that are linked into a corporation's network, including wireless access points, an IP phone, lighting, heating, ventilation, PCs and other devices.

Cisco uses internally developed network intelligence technology to measure the power use of devices such as IP surveillance cameras, phones and wireless access. For PCs, desktops and servers, the tech firm deploys software that resides on the device that communicates with the network to measure power use. Other software can be deployed to measure ATM power consumption.

"You can report on energy use by location, by laptop or access point, or by user ID and password," says William Choe, director of product management for Cisco. "If you have a multiple building campus, you can determine the energy use for the third floor of building number seven, for example. Once you have that visibility, you can implement policy to reduce power usage."

Kluba says the bank already instructs the bank's 30 employees to turn off the bank's mix of about three dozen desktops and printers at night, but EnergyWise's uses will include visibility into when these devices are idle at other times. He also says the bank should save about ten percent in energy cost by optimizing the use of employee computers.

The internally-focused moves come as the four-year-old bank pilots a client sustainability questionnaire for existing and potential borrowers. Included with initial loan packages, the questionnaire does not determine loan qualification, but measures the borrower's practices in waste reduction, energy conservation, climate protection, water conservation and community involvement. The bank then acts as a consultant to enhance the borrower's financial performance with energy-related recommendations.

In addition to the questionnaire, the bank's lending strategy targets businesses that are involved in developing, implementing or providing "clean" technology and in the construction of environmentally sustainable buildings or businesses. New Resource's own energy saving bona fides will play a role in building credibility among its base.

"The bank's looking at its own footprint before they go out in public, they're making sure they're doing it right," says Rod Nelsestuen, a senior research director for TowerGroup, who says the bank's initiatives also provide more control over energy use in addition to reducing expense. "[They] can scale up and down to meet demand."

There's also the matter of the bank's economic sustainability. While the institution's internal and external energy reducing initiatives aren't directly tied to compliance with a year- old FDIC "cease and desist" order issued in regards to parts of the bank's lending practices before 2009, CEO Vince Siciliano says practicing sound energy policy does contribute to an atmosphere of health overall fiscal strategy as the bank recovers.

"The bank wants to manage financial and environmental returns," Siciliano says, adding the institution has reduced the "troubled" loans in its portfolio and is on target for compliance with the FDIC. "We think that in the long run [a sound energy policy] will make for superior company. We'll attract and retain better employees, and we'll be 'walking the walk.'"

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