Bank of America, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, has a legacy of environmental leadership dating back two decades, when it began implementing an environmental focus to its own operations and business practices. Bank of America created its $20 billion, 10-year environmental initiative to encourage the “development of environmentally friendly sustainable business practices through lending, investing, philanthropy, and the creation of new products and services.” Recent examples include lending to a nonprofit to acquire 50,000 acres of redwood forest (the first time 100% private capital has been used to preserve timberland); investing in solar power and other renewable energy efforts at schools, municipalities, and businesses; offering new products such as the Brighter Planet credit card that enables reward points to be invested in renewable energy projects; and, using new energy-saving lighting and HVAC technologies in its retail banking centers to reduce energy consumption. Bank of America does not finance projects that would destroy primary moist tropical rainforest, certain endangered forests, or companies involved in illegal logging. The company reduced paper usage per associate by 40% and set aggressive, voluntary goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the company by 9% through the reduction of its energy consumption. And Bank of America reimburses its associates $3,000 when they buy a hybrid car, a benefit that began as a pilot program in Southern California.
Ecosystem and Watershed Stewardship
- San Mateo County — Pharmaceutical Disposal Program
The main goals of the San Mateo County Pharmaceutical Disposal Program are to help avoid unintended use, reduce or prevent recreational pharmaceutical use, and to help stop the continuing contamination of the environment. The program, which partners with the San Mateo County Police and Sheriffs Association, offers the public a convenient, viable and environmentally friendly alternative to flushing medicines into the wastewater stream or placing them in municipal landfills. This simple yet innovative program has diverted nearly three tons of medicines from San Mateo’s solid waste and wastewater streams, and prevented their unintended use by children and seniors.
- Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour
The Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour was created to educate Alameda and Contra Costa County residents about native plants and their contribution to water conservation, the natural habitat, and the reduction of pesticide use. Contra Costa Water Conservation Supervisor Chris Dundon called it “an excellent, educational program that provides residents with the opportunity to see beautiful, water conserving gardens firsthand and to have their questions about natural gardening techniques answered by knowledgeable and enthusiastic homeowners and volunteers.” The more than 50,000 garden visits that have been made have inspired registrants to make changes to their own gardens. The environmental goals of the tour are to reduce pesticide, water, and fertilizer use, as well as the amount of green waste entering landfills.
Environmental and Economic Partnerships
- Valley Clean Air Now – Tune In and Tune Up Program
Valley Clean Air Now is a nonprofit advocacy group committed to improving air quality in communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Valley Clean Air Now administers the Tune In and Tune Up program in collaboration with the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the Advanced Transportation Technology and Energy Initiative Center at Fresno City College. Since 2003, more than 2,500 Valley residents in 11 cities have participated. A typical Tune In and Tune Up event removes approximately 3,000 tons of carbon monoxide, 300 tons of hydrocarbons and 150 tons of oxides of nitrogen from the air in one year.
- GRID Alternatives — The Solar Affordable Housing Program
The mission of GRID Alternatives is to empower communities in need by providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment and training. In partnership with the San Francisco Department of the Environment, the housing departments of El Monte, Huntington Park, Oakland, Richmond and San Mateo County, and numerous Habitat for Humanity chapters, GRID Alternatives has been bringing energy efficiency to low-income neighborhoods since 2001. Each solar system installed results in an average savings of $10,000 in avoided energy costs over a system’s lifetime. T
- Cayucos Land Conservancy
The mission of the Cayucos Land Conservancy is to preserve the character of Cayucos, a small rural beach town in San Luis Obispo County, by protecting the open space around it and providing passive recreational opportunities for its residents and visitors. A private alternative to land perservation by public agency, it has been called “a model for reducing state costs and providing stewardship of public lands” by Assembly Member Sam Blakeslee.