First Green Bank in Mt. Dora, Fla., is living up to its name.
The $196 million-asset bank said Thursday it has opened a branch in Orlando that continues its commitment to the environment.
The branch, which opened downtown in December, occupies the first floor of a building that another bank had occupied.
First Green Bank retrofitted the leased space with carpet made from recycled materials, applied paint to the walls that emits no volatile organic compounds and installed cabinets made of bamboo.
The bank also changed out the restrooms with waterless urinals and other fixtures that cut water consumption by roughly 25%, and replaced light fixtures with energy-saving LED and compact fluorescent bulbs.
"We decided to do all the improvements to a LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] silver standard," Ken LaRoe, First Green's founder and chief executive, told American Banker. "Basically, we went back to the level of where it was a shell building."
The makeover reflects the company's mission, which is to do right by the environment and the bank's employees, community and shareholders. LaRoe, a self-described committed environmentalist, started the bank in 2009, three years after selling another bank he ran for a decade.
American Banker has named First Green, which operates from a 12,000-square-foot LEED Platinum headquarters, one of America's greenest banks. Outside magazine named the bank one of America's "Best Places to Work" for the bank's espousing work-life balance.
So far, the ethos seems to benefit the bank's bottom line. "The business side of the equation is going fantastic," said LaRoe, who adds that the bank stands to have earned roughly $800,000 after taxes in 2012.
LaRoe adds that the bank expects to open a fifth branch in Winter Park, Fla., "as soon as we can get something nailed there," and plans to open a branch a year in each of the coming three years.
The bank also is getting what LaRoe calls a "good response" to its offer to finance 100% of solar power or water upgrades for homes and businesses. Eight borrowers, including one business, have taken First Green up on its offer, which includes free financing for the company's employees and directors.
"My dream is if you drive into central Florida and go, 'Wow, look at all the solar power, wonder what that is,'" said LaRoe, an Orlando native, "our name will be front and center as to the reason why."