Eco Banking: The Latest Trend in Green Remodeling

Mary Butler

As the green movement evolves, being ecological for mainstream Americans has gone from aluminum recycling to using compact florescent light bulbs to buying energy efficient appliance...and perhaps, some day, to where and how one banks.

While traditional banks including Bank of America, Harris and Chase already offer green-tailored services and products, this new breed of eco bank is taking the niche to a new level.

In early June, the Chicago Tribune reported a growing trend of "green" banks opening in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida.

Green remodelers, this development gives cause to rejoice. Such financial institutions are offering, "earth-friendly policies such as lower interest rates on loans to green builders and borrowers who buy fuel-efficient cars, as well as incentives to depositors who opt out of paper statements," according to the Tribune.

Green Banks, New and Old

Among the first banks to fully jump on the green bandwagon is Chicago-based GreenChoice Bank, which expects to be open by the second half of 2009, according to its Web site. "Sustainability has entered the mainstream, as evidenced by the ubiquity of 'green' messaging and reporting in the media," said GreenChoice's application with the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Tribune article cites.

GreenChoice received conditional regulatory approval on June 2. It expects to raise $13.5 million to $16 million in capital. And the institution isn't the only one banking on gaining customers, who want to put their money where their mouths are.

Texas-based Green Bank, previously Redstone Bank, is promoting an annual rewards program for green home-improvement loans. Principal balances of at least $200,000 will receive a $500 incentive. Among the required improvements is water-saving dual-flush toilets.

The Green Demographic: Rich and Educated

Green Bank anticipates fewer delinquencies because the green clients "tend to be higher income and better educated" and are "a little better at paying bills," bank chief executive Geoffrey Greenwade told the Tribune. In fact, green loans, he said, have averaged around $800,000, and the bank recently approved a $2 million home construction loan.

Green or not, a deal is a deal. While you're shopping for rebates and tax breaks, don't forget to seek out special financing, too. You can feel good about banking with an ecowise institution--and with the money you save, just think of the solar panels you can buy.

Becky Yerak • Financial institutions see profit in green movement, promote Earth-friendly policies • Jun 16, 2009 • http://www.chicagotribune.com/http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-tue-green-banking-jun16,0,6719434.story

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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