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Lauren Bielski
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TD Bank Opens Prototype Green Branch

With the launch of an LEED Platinum-certified branch in Queens Village, N.Y., TD Bank takes a major step in its quest to significantly cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

At a time when many companies are still considering whether, and how, to go green, TD Bank already has advanced to platinum -- LEED Platinum-certified, that is.

The early April opening of an environmentally friendly branch that adheres to the most rigorous standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) marks a major step in the bank's efforts to reduce consumption and improve sustainability. It's all part of a transformation started three years ago by TD Bank's Toronto-based parent, TD Bank Financial Group, intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions from all North American facilities, fleet and travel -- the company's total carbon footprint -- by 5 percent relative to 2006 levels.

The new Queens Village, N.Y., branch will serve as a prototype that will guide the build out, or conversion, of future U.S. branches, reports Frank Sherman, the bank's U.S. green officer, who says TD Bank expects to open five to 10 LEED-certified branches this year. "Going green is a process, not a single project, and the opening of the Queens Village store ... is merely the first step," he says. "We hope to improve all of our efforts as we learn more about green building and operations." TD Bank also has opened LEED-certified offices in Boston and plans to open a certified call center in Auburn, Maine.

CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

Sherman joined TD Bank in January 2009, at a time when the organization wanted to align its environmental efforts with TD Bank Financial Group's efforts in Canada and the U.K. In fact, the green officer role was created for him.

"TD Bank sees going green as a responsibility of being a good corporate citizen," Sherman says. Green, he suggests, is more than the bank's logo color -- it's a part of the brand and will continue to shape the bank's identity. In addition to facilities upgrades to lower emissions, "This will extend to how we do business and how we run our operations," Sherman says of a broad vision that will include "giving back to communities" by improving air quality and leading by example, for instance.

The green initiative receives input from a cross-functional committee led by TD Bank EVP of shared services Carol L. Mitchell. Key objectives of the initiative include participating in public policy dialogue on green matters and in the environmental committees of international organizations (including the Canadian Bankers Association and the Environmental Bankers Association), as well as in industry initiatives, such as the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Equator Principles, according to the bank's Web site.

"We spent time in the beginning determining exactly what it means to be carbon-neutral," Sherman recalls, pointing to the ideal's impact on many aspects of the bank's operations, ranging from paper and consumables consumption to the energy used by IT systems. As part of the current project, he relates, TD Bank purchased a block of wind energy large enough to run its network of 2,600 ATMs and also picked up 31,000 metric tons of carbon offset credits to eliminate remaining emissions. Sherman says the bank works with third-party verification company Pembina to monitor greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Sherman, employees have been enthusiastic about making green attitudes and processes a priority. In fact, future ideas for improving the bank's carbon footprint, he notes, are likely to come from them.

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