Looking to expand its focus on the environment, Bank of America says it will increase its low-carbon business from $50 billion to $125 billion by 2025.
“We are putting our financial and intellectual capital, and the strength of our partnerships to work to help create a better future for us all,” says Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s chief executive officer.
Increasing its low-carbon business is just one part of the bank’s commitment to change. The focus extends beyond transformational finance to include operations, employee engagement and partnering with nonprofits and other environmentally focused organizations.
“Bank of America has consistently been among the leaders in clean energy finance,” says Andrew Plepler, corporate social responsibility executive at Bank of America.
Since 2007, Bank of America has provided more than $39 billion in financing for low-carbon initiatives. In 2013, for example, it issued the first benchmark-size corporate green bond — a $500 million offering — followed by a $600 million bond in 2015.
In addition, last year the bank launched its Catalytic Finance Initiative (CFI) to stimulate new investment in energy sustainability, efficiency and access.
Recently, CFI partnered with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and other finance institutions to bring clean cooking solutions to millions of households in the developing world.
Beyond CFI, the bank’s Global Wealth and Investment Management Division, including U.S. Trust, offers a variety of impact investment vehicles to individuals, foundations and endowments at all asset levels.
“We understand the impact our operations have on the environment,” says Alex Liftman, global environmental executive at Bank of America. “But our scale allows us to reduce the environmental effects of our operations through efficiency, influence and supply chain.”
The bank’s goals include reducing its global water consumption by 20%, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% and achieving 20% LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for its corporate workplaces.
With supply-chain management, the bank has integrated sustainability criteria into supplier sourcing decisions, providing managers with sample sustainability questions and scoring for all new vendors. “The feedback facilitates collaboration and an ongoing dialogue,” Liftman says.
Bank of America’s My Environment® program provides employees with educational and volunteer opportunities that inspire them to be better environmental stewards in all aspects of their lives.
“More than 17,000 employees participate in educational activities,” says Liftman, “such as our Waste Less Lunch program to reduce food waste and environmental impact, and volunteer activities like the International Coastal Cleanup with Ocean Conservancy.”
Employees also have access to a variety of environmental benefits, discounts and reimbursement opportunities.
“Engaging with partners such as Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Project is helping to drive innovation and expand opportunities for a low-carbon energy future,” Liftman says. “Our partnership with Water.org will help more than 100,000 people in southern India gain access to clean water and sanitation, expanding economic and educational opportunities for women in the process.”
The bank also works with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) to help research strategies to make communities and economies more resilient to climate change.
The bank’s broader mission
Bank of America’s focus on the environment is just one aspect of its larger approach to corporate social responsibility, or CSR. “Whether we’re providing access to capital for women entrepreneurs, mentoring emerging leaders in developing countries or working toward a lower-carbon economy, CSR has become a part of everything we do,” says Plepler.
Some of the featured participants are not employees of U.S. Trust. The opinions and conclusions expressed are not necessarily those of U.S. Trust or its personnel.