Imagine if everyone made environmental sustainability a priority. Small changes in daily consumption and disposal practices can make a big difference. Compounded over weeks, months and years, the benefits become even more significant and can make vast changes to the ecological health of the communities we all share.
“That was exactly the vision PSECU fulfilled in 2014 when, following five years of discussion and planning, the state’s largest credit union opened its new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certified headquarters facility,” said PSECU Board Chair Jodi Lynne Blanch.
Constructed of 20 percent recycled materials, the building occupies 47 acres in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County. The location also includes large spaces of natural habitat that require no irrigation systems and that foster local biodiversity. A walking path around the site encourages employees to enjoy nature and their outdoor surroundings, as does a rooftop garden, which also provides the building with natural insulation to lower heating and cooling needs.
“The innerworkings of the building are designed to be just as efficient as what’s seen from the modern and iconic outside,” Blanch added. “An on-site natural gas-powered cogeneration heating and cooling plant reduces energy costs by 38 percent, eco-friendly plumbing features conserve water, a storm water capture-and-treatment system processes 90 percent of runoff, and natural sunlight accounts for 75 percent of the building’s lighting needs, to name a few.”
As planned, the savings have compounded. Over five years, the benefits of green design at PSECU’s central location, as well as the credit union’s environmentally friendly mindset, have really added up:
“As we move forward, we hope to continue strengthening PSECU’s efforts to stay at the forefront of environmentally friendly practices and technologies for the betterment of our more than 900-person workforce, our over 450,000 valued members, and everyone in the communities we serve,” said Blanch.
The decision of the $5.3 billion credit union to incorporate green enhancements into the construction of its central office reflects its forward-thinking business model, which favors electronic delivery of high-quality products and services over more standard branched banking, explained the credit union’s Vice President of Marketing and Membership Development Barb Bowker.
“By offering a full array of electronically delivered services, we give our members account access when and where it is most convenient for them. Our digital-first model also supports our environmental efforts. Fewer branches means less construction materials and developed space, fewer papers that need to be printed, and less transportation between physical locations, which lowers fuel use and reduces pollution from vehicles.”
With such significant conservation results, it begs the question: What does PSECU do with the money saved by being environmentally conscious? The answer is simple - it reinvests in those it serves.
“As a credit union, we’re a financial cooperative. That means that our members are our owners, and as such we aim to serve their best interests in all we do,” Bowker said. “The money that we save through the green aspects of our headquarters and business operations are shared with our members in many ways – through free and low-fee products, competitive loan rates, and innovative new service offerings. We also take great pride in supporting local nonprofit organizations and charitable initiatives that serve causes across Pennsylvania, including several focused on environmental issues, and benefit PSECU members and nonmembers alike.”
So, while change isn’t always easy, and it may not happen overnight, we don’t have to think of environmental conservation as an imaginary priority anymore. Everyone can make difference through small alterations to their lifestyle and by choosing to support businesses with strong green initiatives, business practices and goals that will further the sustainability movement.
“We encourage anyone interested in becoming part of PSECU’s digital-first banking model and thereby in contributing to our environmental stewardship efforts to join us,” added Bowker. “A vast majority of Pennsylvanians are likely eligible for membership - even if they don’t think they are - and by joining and working with us, together, we can make a big impact.”
An individual’s contribution to the environment doesn’t have to stop when they join PSECU either, Bowker continued.
“We’re always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint, and we encourage our members to do the same. For example, something as simple as a member’s decision to change from printed to online statements can result in significant paper savings, and according to our calculations, switching to e-Statements saves an average of 48 sheets of paper per account per year, not to mention envelopes or any of the environmental impacts of mailing,” she said.
To learn more about PSECU membership, visit www.psecu.com/join.
Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.