Wells Fargo & Co. said Monday that it will put its money where its mouth is, bolstering a 10-point environmental responsibility plan with a commitment of $1 billion over the next five years.
Riding a rising green tide, Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) will use the money to invest in and lend to environmentally friendly businesses.
A central point of the San Francisco bank's new plan is the adoption of the Equator Principles, created by the World Bank and International Finance Corp. to guide financial institutions toward making environmentally friendly investments and loans. The principles make environmental impact a criteria in transactions for projects costing $50 million or more.
Adoption of the Equator Principles is voluntary. Other banks, including Citigroup Inc. and JP Morgan Chase, have already adopted them.
On a more micro level, Wells Fargo pledged to partner with other businesses to enable more green building while also make it easier for customers to qualify for mortgages on energy-efficient homes. The company will also bolster its corporate contributions toward environmental non-profits.
Administratively, Wells Fargo plans to create a new external Environmental Advisory Board to coordinate implementation and partnerships with environmental experts. This will complement the company's newly created Environmental Affairs Advisory Council.
The new environmental push follows recent Wells Fargo environmental measures. The company invested $64 million in financing green buildings in Idaho and Oregon and $600 million for the acquisition and development of "brownfields," sites that are underutilized because of some sort of contamination, real or perceived.
"We want to make sure Wells Fargo and our more than 80 businesses and 151,000 team members are committed to being environmentally responsible stewards in every community in which we do business," said Mary Wenzel, Wells Fargo vice president of environmental affairs, in a news release.
By Liz Fink