Magazine article American Banker

At BankAmerica, Environmental Awareness Pays Off

Magazine article American Banker

At BankAmerica, Environmental Awareness Pays Off

Article excerpt

Environmentalism and banking are rarely discussed in the same sentence, which is what makes Richard Morrison's job at BankAmerica Corp. so unusual.

Five years ago, Mr. Morrison, a senior vice president, co-founded the bank's environmental policies and programs group, a three-person unit that works full-time to minimize any negative impact BankAmerica has on the environment.

Though other big banks contacted said they advocate company recycling programs and energy-saver efforts, BankAmerica is the only one with a top executive devoted to these issues.

"In my experience they are head and shoulders above the other banks," said Joan Bavaria, co-chairwoman of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, which works with corporate America to improve its environmental record.

Last week, the $240 billion-asset bank became the first Fortune 500 service sector company in the country to sign on with Ms. Bavaria's coalition, known as CERES, which was started in 1989 after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill.

By joining the coalition, the bank is required to report its progress annually on several environmental goals and participate in coalition committees.

In return, the bank gets national recognition for its efforts, which could attract investors who consider social issues when buying stock.

Most of the other coalition members come from industries, such as oil and automobiles, that discharge pollutants.

But now the group is broadening its support across corporate America.

"Despite what you may think, service sector companies do have an effect on the environment," Mr. Morrison said. …

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