At U.S. Bank, we care deeply about promoting sustainable business practices while supporting economic growth – it is one of the reasons that we have invested more than $15 billion in environmentally beneficial business opportunities over the past several years.
In 2016, we committed to building a more comprehensive, robust environmental program and this was recognized in the A- grade we received from CDP. The grade was an increase from previous years and reflective of our strengthened governance and significant updates made to our Environmental Responsibility Policy.
We took a comprehensive approach to our environmental reporting to identify climate change risk and opportunities, as well as gather information on all the positive impacts we’re making on the environment. These include our more than $2.5 billion in lending and investing to environmentally beneficial businesses, which is at the core of what we do as a company. We feel it is important to help our customers reach their goals, but we wanted to set some of our own, so in 2016, we set our first greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target. Our goal is to reduce our operational GHG emissions 40 percent by 2029 and 60 percent by 2044.
U.S. Bank is a leader in developing Community Solar Garden (CSG) programs in four states and has been recognized for our leadership nationwide. CSG can lead to easier access and adoption of solar, which creates job opportunity and spurs economic development in these subject markets.
Our tax equity investments helped finance 300,000 homes powered by renewable energy investments in Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York. This includes a 20 MW, community solar project in Massachusetts that is the largest community solar project in the nation. This project alone will support approximately 1,500 jobs during construction and 40 permanent jobs. Our investment in community solar will offset approximately 1.8 MM metric tons of CO2. And best of all, it will provide access to solar for those who do not have an appropriate roof, do not own their own home or business, residents in multi-unit buildings and low-income housing residents.
Our support of environmental responsibility extends into the classroom. As a sponsor of the Earthwatch Teach Earth program, U.S. Bank funded two teachers to participate in an expedition to Costa Rica to study the effects of climate change and other environmental impacts on sea turtles.
“The locals talked about how they had, as children, seen many Leatherback Sea Turtles on the beach but that, nowadays, their grandchildren could not experience the same,” said Gabriela Anaya, teacher at the Racine Unified School District in Racine, WI. “This really impacted me in terms of the way that we live and choices that we make and how they will impact other living things.”
“Since I returned from my Earthwatch expedition, I’ve already found many ways to incorporate what I learned and experienced into my classroom,” said Kayla Zaworski, middle school special education teacher at Mountain View Middle School in Beaverton, OR. “We’ve now done self-guided projects on different sea animals and ways we can protect them, as well as other sea life.”
The EarthWatch program is improving science and environmental education by providing passionate teachers with the support and resources they need to launch new endeavors, achieve new successes and rise to new levels of leadership in their classrooms and communities.