Finance

How energy efficiency in small offices and branches leads to huge benefits for banks

Large enterprises such as major banks and other financial institutions can run vast data centers, massive office buildings and branches that consume huge amounts of energy. To keep availability up and electricity costs down, data center and other facility management professionals for years have turned to data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools and intelligent building management systems (iBMS)  to optimize the efficiency of their sophisticated power and cooling infrastructure.

That focus on reducing the operational costs of big facilities is perfectly understandable, and there’s a vibrant industry supporting it. But data centers , office buildings and branches actually are only a small part of a bank’s overall physical and power-consuming profile.

Any national or regional bank or insurance company could have hundreds or even thousands of separate local offices, branches and ATMs. All of them consume power and many can have relatively high energy intensity, which means all of them could reduce their energy costs with proper management tools.

“It’s an area where the technology to automate energy controls hasn’t been there until recently,” says Hugh Lindsay, Global Solution Architect for the Finance Segment at Schneider-Electric. “To be able to put in a “mini” building management system with a reasonable ROI has always been difficult.”

Enter a new generation of technology, including embedded, intelligent sensors and hardware.

“That’s changed with wireless technologies like Zigbee and EnOcean, which  enable simple controls with a very low installation cost even in existing spaces ,” he says. “This means we can implement small monitoring and control  systems in small spaces to achieve small savings, but which in the aggregate add up to large amounts of money.”

Given that local branches generate up to 60 percent of a bank’s energy consumption, or more, they are a logical target for cost reductions through the installation of energy-efficient products as well as software and systems that enable precise automation of lighting and environmental control systems. The bottom line is that even the smallest branch or office can become a smart building.

Energy management and control at the branch and local office level can reduce a financial services company’s overall energy costs and carbon footprint. The latter is becoming increasingly important as financial institutions move to establish themselves as leaders in energy efficiency and sustainability. Not only is this important from a public relation’s perspective, it satisfies the demands of shareholders who believe that a company’s ability to manage its energy output is reflective of how well the company is run overall.

A global survey of financial institutions by the International Finance Corporation showed that 59 percent of respondents cited increased revenues as a benefit of adopting sustainability as a business strategy, with another 50 percent citing improved community relations, and 41 percent citing risk reduction.

On a branch level, sustainability can translate into $600 less per employee in utility costs, according to a 2012 study on the relationship between corporate sustainability and financial performance. Perhaps more significantly, the same study by Edward J. Conlon and Ante Glavas of the University of Notre Dame shows that sustainability leads to $3 million more per branch in consumer deposits and nearly $1 million more per branch in consumer loans. (Talk about improved community relations!)

Financial institutions should consider a number of courses of action to meet energy reduction and sustainability efforts at the branch and local office level, including engaging an experience consultant to:

  • Help it determine appropriate and achievable energy and carbon reduction goals
  • Map out an actionable sustainability strategy
  • Steer it toward “green” energy sources
  • Audit energy bills
  • Identify energy rebates and other incentives
  • Analyze new regulations for compliance risks

A well-designed and executed energy efficiency and sustainability program, along with effective energy and infrastructure management tools at the branch and local office level, can improve the financial performance and brand of financial institutions, while increasing customer loyalty and revenues.


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