America's Most Convenient Bank Goes Green

Frank Sherman, U.S. Green Officer at TD Bank sat down with GBLB to discuss TD Bank's announcement that it would be carbon neutral

GBLB:  What is the motivation behind TD Bank's green initiative? 

Frank Sherman: Lack of Federal leadership leaves it up to private enterprise. Right now, the private sector is going to have to pull us through in the short term.  Our green initiative is work we have been focusing on for a year and a half internally. The driver stems from TD Bank Financial Group in Toronto. Their senior leadership made the decision to become carbon neutral as a company. Their initial commitment early last year or late 2008 was to become carbon neutral by end of October of 2010. The US has follwed suit, and because the timing for the creation of TD Bank NA (the combination of Commerce Bank and Bank North) we were running a few steps behind.

GBLB: Were there any roadblocks to becoming carbon neutral? 

Frank Sherman:  We started analyzing the carbon neutral commitment over the past year, right at the time there was a lot of stress in the financial institutions. We had to look at "What is the impact this has on the company?" It made us try to really understand the company to figure out what can be achieved, to take action based on what we have done rather than just promises. It is as much a commitment going forward. We are fully aware that there is a lot we can continually do to improve, but you have to stake your claim and people can hold you accountable and we can hold ourselves accountable.

GBLB: What is TD Bank going to do going forward?

Frank Sherman: We are not doing anything now that is too far outside the norm for progressive corporations. We are making commitments to reduce carbon outputs. Given the trajectory we are on now, first and foremost is to reduce our carbon footprint and buying renewable energy credits and supporting renewable energy in US and Canada, and lastly to invest in carbon offsets.

We understand that we will always be judged by NGOs as not doing enough. It is not always useful to have a conversation when people think two different things. We accept the fact that others choose to go father or define environmental impacts differently. As we grow as a responsible corporate citizen, that is not to say we won’t take responsibility for secondary emissions. But, one step at a time was our way of approaching this.

GBLB:  What sustainable projects are you looking into as an investment for TD Bank?

Frank Sherman:  We are exploring how to balance the economics of buying carbon in quantity with investing in projects that effect our carbon footprints. For example, we bought a block of offsets from RGGI, we have balanced that with one landfill gas capture projects in New Jersey and a waste incineration project in Florida, both in areas where we do business. We are considering getting involved in projects protecting forests. We are looking at a potential carbon sequestration project in Pennsylvania. I look at carbon offsets as an investment project. We are looking to avoid emissions, and the investments we have made are ideally placed in the places where we do business.

We offset 203 million KwH, or 203,000 RECs. We purchased 31,000 metric tons of carbon offsets. That is based our 2008 greenhouse gas inventory. Our 2008 emissions equalled 121,000 metric tons of GHG emissions.

We measured our GHG emissions based on direct emissions of fossil fuels, electricity, fleet vehicles, fossil fuel impact of biz travel, leased space. We used a similar approach based on scope of emission we can control.

GBLB:  What are you doing in terms of green building? 

Frank Sherman: We identified green building as one way of addressing some of our sustainable goals right out of the gate. We began to thign about high performing green buildings as we started the process of reimaging our brand as America’s most convenient bank. We are doing all of our new branches green—but 2010 is a transition year with some in the pipeline. By the end of 2010 and going into 2011 we will be building green buildings almost exclusively.


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