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Developing green products in the financial sector and reducing environmental impact of bank services (GREEN BANKING 4 LIFE)
Start date: Oct 3, 2006, End date: Oct 2, 2009 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Environmental concerns among the banks and insurance companies arose more slowly than in the manufacturing sector. The significance of the environmental impacts of the service sector began to be realised when initial corporate environmental reports from financial institutions indicated energy consumption figures similar to those in many manufacturing companies. Financial institutions play a very important role in shaping the economy; thus, it is essential for them to be ecologically and socially responsible. They also have a great influence on the achievability of sustainable growth targets through their lending and investment policies. Finally, financial institutions can reduce their operational and core business environmental impacts when using products and providing services. A preliminary research into energy consumption in the banking sector was carried out in preparation of the proposed project. It showed a broad spectrum of energy consumption ranging from 110 to 1 355 kWh/m2/year (an average of 200 kWh/m2/year is anticipated for Greece) and electricity consumption between 3 600 and 8 250 kWh/employee/year for bank buildings. Photovoltaics can easily cover 20-25% of the energy needs of an ordinary bank building (at least in Greece), leading to considerable reductions in CO2 emissions. Objectives The GREEN BANKING 4 LIFE project’s overall objective was to promote green banking in the beneficiary, Piraeus Bank, and the in banking sector. In particular, it aimed to: Assess the operational environmental impacts of Piraeus Bank associated with its internal operational activities. Draw up of a guide for environmental programmes for better resource consumption practices. Reduce CO2 emissions from electricity consumption and transportation, increase recycling (paper, PET, toners, cartridges and batteries) and increase the use of green products by bank branches. Assess core business environmental impacts resulting from external commercial activities and investigate potential banking products that will reduce these impacts. Design and launch green banking products (promoting environmentally responsible lending and investment). Spread experience gained by the project outside the Bank of Piraeus. Disseminate the results to employees, associates and general public.Results The GREEN BANKING 4 LIFE project was very successfully implemented and well managed. It effectively achieved all its objectives. The management of the Piraeus Bank's operational environmental impacts started with the development of novel software to garner and analyse data that allows for continuous monitoring and precise evaluation of the environmental operational impacts associated with the consumption of energy, water and other resources. The software also analyses all the bank's buildings use of consumables and the business trips taken by employees. A series of five guides was published with instructions on how to conserve energy and water, recycle used materials, adopt green procurement and manage business trips. As a consequence of the recycling programme undertaken during the project, 680 tonnes of paper, 2 462 kg of batteries, 1 680 items of ink and toner, 60.6 tonnes of electric and electronic equipment, 5 065 kg of plastic, 2 600 kg of accumulators and 180 kg of light bulbs were recycled. The project’s focus on green procurement resulted in a 98% use of recycled and chlorine-free A4 and A3 paper. Photovoltaic systems were installed at four of the bank's buildings with a total capacity of 45 kW. Thus, during the lifetime of the project, a total reduction of 10 tonnes of CO2 emissions was achieved, and it is estimated that 1 215 tonnes (a significant improvement on the 700 tonnes foreseen) of CO2 emissions will be saved over 25 years of minimum operation. Water-saving techniques were also implemented including the fitting of taps with timers and the installation of a pilot system for rainwater collection on one of the bank's buildings on Kea, a Cyclades islands with low rainfall. Also, a car-pooling system was made available to the bank's employees, giving them the chance to share a vehicle to commute to work. This system was not very popular, however. Finally, with its new green banking products, the Bank has supported a considerable percentage (12%) of the RES power plants in Greece and 30% of the small photovoltaic power plants that have been installed in the country. Thus, with its green banking products, the project has supported the expansion of the use of RES in Greece. Within the framework of the management of core business impacts, Piraeus Bank drew up a feasibility study on the potential development of green business in Greece. Subsequently, 14 green banking products – aimed at individuals, small and large enterprises – were designed and launched to support investments in renewable energy sources. Communication and awareness activities included: Construction of a dedicated website (, Development of an e-learning programme with five modules on climate change, energy, water, recycling and green procurement. More than 12% of the bank's staff voluntarily completed the modules. Publication of regular weekly green news on the bank's intranet and in its periodic publications. Publication of more than 250 articles and advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Distribution of a guide of good practices to 75 000 companies. Organisation of a recycling competition in Greece to reward the best environmental performance within the bank regarding recycling of paper, batteries and ink cartridges/toners.A green banking branch was launched, the first of its kind in the Balkans, as a public information point about the opportunities of green business and to promote the products/services Piraeus Bank offers in the field. More than 500 people visited the Green Banking branch during the project. Furthermore, capacity building programmes were organised for the top management of Piraeus Bank in Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus in order to transfer expertise on mitigating operational environmental impacts and developing green banking products. Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).

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