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Capital Acumen Issue 33

Bank of America: Our Commitment To A Better World

From net zero carbon footprints to the hives of honeybees, the bank's approach to supporting social and environmental progress comes in many forms.

A group of bees

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If you find yourself passing the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park in Manhattan, you might spot honeybees swarming around the seventh floor of the 55-story structure. Two hives of Apis mellifera — one of nature’s premier pollinators — were installed on the terrace a few years ago to encourage plant growth on the tower’s outdoor surfaces. The flora, in turn, help cool the building and manage storm runoff. The bees are a small part of Bank of America’s commitment to making the world a better place.

Click through the slideshow below to learn more about the bank’s environmental commitment:

One Bryant Park

When One Bryant Park (OBP) opened in 2010, it was the United States’ first environment friendly skyscraper designed with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) benchmark in mind. Constructed in part with recycled/recyclable materials, OBP features windows that adjust transparency to control thermal exchange and lighting needs, a co-generation plant that turns waste heat into electricity that can be returned to the city’s power grid, and a filtration system that cleans air as it’s drawn into and vented out of the building.

 

 

Carbon neutrality

In 2016 the company announced new goals to reduce the environmental impact of its operations worldwide by becoming carbon neutral and purchasing 100% renewable electricity by 2020. The bank also enhanced its already existing goals to include a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 45% reduction in water use and a 40% reduction in energy use.

 

 

 

 

Banking on a low-carbon economy

The company’s environmental economic report, based on work conducted by consulting firm EY, examines the economic impacts of a $12.6 billion subset of its $125 billion environmental business commitment.* Specifically it focuses on projects within the U.S. that were financed between 2013 and 2016. The analysis found that the bank’s financing supported an annual average of almost 40,000 jobs, nearly half of which pay significantly higher than the U.S. average compensation, and resulted in $9.6 billion in labor income. Additionally these efforts realized a cumulative $29.9 billion in economic output, contributed $14.8 billion to gross domestic product (GDP), and funded projects that helped to prevent more than 2.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, the equivalent of taking more than half a million cars off the road for one year.1, 2

Multibillion-dollar commitment

Bank of America’s first environmental business commitment was established in 2007 at $20 billion. In 2013 it established a second commitment at $50 billion, increasing it to $125 billion two years later. Its plan is to meet this goal by 2025 through activities such as lending, investing and raising capital, focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, land use and waste reduction. “We are putting our financial capital, our intellectual capital, and the strength of our partnerships to work to help create a better future for all of us,” says Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s chief executive officer. It has provided $55 billion since 2013 as part of this initiative.

 

Leading the way in climate finance

The bank’s $125 billion initiative deploys capital supporting clients around the globe. This commitment includes its Catalytic Finance Initiative (CFI) as well as the issuance and underwriting of green bonds. In 2014 it launched the CFI with a $1 billion commitment to finance high-impact, clean energy investments. Several partners have joined this initiative, bringing in $8 billion in total commitments for new investments in these projects. “A key way in which we are helping to build sustainable economies is by deploying capital to clean energy projects,” says Anne Finucane, vice chairman. “The Catalytic Finance Initiative demonstrates how blending different types of financing can achieve a greater collective impact.”

 

Green bonds

Green bonds are issued for the development of projects focused on energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, ecosystem protection and the like. In 2016 alone, Bank of America Merrill Lynch underwrote $25 billion in green bonds in partnership with peer institutions on behalf of 27 unique clients, and directly underwrote $7 billion itself. “Green bonds are a key way we bring the private sector together to fund clean energy,” Finucane says. Bank of America Merrill Lynch was the world’s leading underwriter of green bonds from 2014 to 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The bank also issued its third and largest green bond for $1 billion in aggregate principal amount in 2016. The bond, which is being used exclusively to fund wind, solar and geothermal projects financed by the bank, brings the total funds raised by the company through green bonds to $2.1 billion.

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