When it comes to Bank of America and the environment, the thrust of the company’s efforts to become more eco-friendly has been in the area of green investing.

In 2007, the company began a 10-year, $20 billion environmental initiative to fund and invest in green business opportunities. In Bank of America’s 2009 annual report, the company said that it had delivered more than $5.9 billion in environmentally-related lending, investing, and new products since initiative began. That figure included $900 million in financing for renewable and energy efficiency projects in 2009 alone, according to the report.

Among the significant deals put together in this area, Bank of America provided $17.5 million in 2007 to help the San Jose School District in California create the largest network of solar-powered and energy-efficient K-12 educational facilities in the United States. According to the bank, the solar-power system will help reduce the district’s carbon emissions by 37,500 tons and cut the city of San Jose’s need for utility-generated electricity by 25 percent.

Even more financing went to the University of Central Missouri in 2009 for a comprehensive energy conservation project. The bank provided $36.1 million to help the university campus become more sustainable by installing energy-efficient lighting, improved air handling systems and new hot water distribution systems, according to the university’s website. Thanks to the upgrades, the university was expected to save $3 million a year in energy costs.

Greener operations

The bank has partnered with The Nature Conservancy in its ‘Bank Greener, Live Greener’ initiative. The program, which began in 2004, has pushed customers to save paper by asking them to opt for electronic bank statements and online bill pay. According to the bank’s website, the initiative has helped save more than 81,000 tons of paper since 2004.

It’s not just the bank’s customers that are using less paper. Bank of America has strived to make its own operations more environmentally friendly as well. According to the company’s website, the amount of paper usage per bank associate has dropped by 40 percent since 2000. In addition, U.S.-based associates who purchase a new hybrid vehicle are eligible for a $3,000 reimbursement from the bank. More than 2,000 associates have participated in the program, according to the bank.

Sustainable building

The bank has also moved toward making its buildings more sustainable. And there’s probably no more significant example of that than the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park in New York City.

The 58-story building located in Midtown Manhattan is one of the most environmentally-friendly office towers in the world and it is the first skyscraper to attain the U.S. Green Building Council’s Platinum LEED certification for its eco-friendly features. 

The building, which is the fourth tallest in the United States, captures rainwater and re-uses it. It also has waterless urinals, which are estimated to save 8 million gallons per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 144,000 pounds per year. In addition, the building has an onsite 4.6-megawatt cogeneration plant providing electric power alongside heating.

For more information on Bank of America and the environment, please check out the environment section of the company’s website.