Teller Andrea W. of Denver is an banking agent on a mission.
Her green bracelet identifies her as one of Wells Fargo’s first “sustainability agents”—banking store team members who help customers and fellow team members better understand the company’s green practices and products and commitment to environmental stewardship.
Working together, the Environmental Affairs team and Distribution Strategies & Services launched the program last spring. Today there are 35 agents in Arizona, California, Colorado and Illinois. Coming soon: sustainability agents in stores in Kansas, Missouri and Texas.
“Many customers come into our stores wanting to know what measures we’re taking to protect the environment,” said Sheri Lucas, program manager for LEED Construction & Standardization (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design®).
“It’s one thing to have a poster or brochure describing your conservation efforts, but it’s much more effective to have a team member who can answer questions in a meaningful way,” Lucas said. “Through our sustainability agents, we can be sure these efforts are being effectively communicated, promoted and practiced in our stores. Our plan is eventually to have agents in stores nationwide.”
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED program provides third-party verification that a building was designed and built to conserve and protect natural resources.
Store managers nominate team members, who then undergo four hours of training each year. Although the program focuses on stores that have solar power and stores that meet LEED standards (either as new or renovated buildings), team members from any banking store can participate if selected by a manager.
Sustainability agents are go-to sources for:
- Local recycling guidelines (and compost, if available).
- Use of recycled paper products and paper reduction efforts, including two-sided printing for internal items and paperless campaigns for customers (Envelope-FreeSM ATMs and online statements).
- Purchase of environmentally friendly supplies such as compostable utensils and plates in break areas and Energy Star-rated office equipment.
- Energy-saving practices such as turning off the lights after business hours or when leaving conference rooms.
- Health and comfort issues (such as “green cleaning” programs).
- Solar programs and products such as the store’s solar panel installation and customer options for solar financing.
- Green store features and Wells Fargo’s other environmental stewardship programs.
Andrea W., who joined Wells Fargo in August 2009, works in the Highlands Ranch store—one of 10 solar-energy-powered stores in a pilot of the technology in Denver. Since being selected by her manager, she’s not only become an expert on the store’s solar power system and company practices but also has found some of her own ways to lessen environmental impacts.
“At the conclusion of each business day, we used to put deposit slips in envelopes bundled together until the deposit slips needed to be shipped out,” she said. “I changed the practice so we now rubber-band the deposit slips from each teller with a date slip. This has saved us 50 envelopes a week and taken some of the paper waste out of our daily usage.”
Mary Wenzel, head of Environmental Affairs, said Wallace’s actions illustrate another benefit of the sustainability agent program.
“It’s a great way to generate new ideas and best practices that can be shared throughout the company,” Wenzel said, noting plans to launch an internal social media site for agents to make the exchange even easier. “It’s like a continuous green communications loop! Plus, it’s a great way to gather feedback from our customers and to listen to them and use that knowledge to continue to put them at the center of everything we do.”
Green practices also are good business, Wenzel said, noting national studies showing 92 percent of young professionals prefer to go to work at environmentally friendly companies. The research also suggests those already employed are more than four times as likely to stay at such companies versus those with less-stellar environmental records.
Although it’s just one part of her daily routine, Wallace said that being a sustainability agent has made her more conscious of her own choices.
“The most important piece of the program to me is the fact that we’re trying to make the eco-friendly attitude a part of everyone’s daily life—something that everyone is conscious of every single day,” she said. “Whether it’s turning off lights or putting things in the proper recycling bin, being an agent has changed my personal life as well. Now, I’m making other people aware of how little things can add up to big savings, and it’s become a passion of mine.”
Note: Most companies have this opportunity to make a difference. Great corporations like Wells Fargo, can make a difference, and promote green policies. It is thrilling and inspiring to see the changes in the corporate mindset. The team members have more job satisfaction and customers are pleased to know that this company is in line with thier green thinking. – Jacqueline