Citi Turns 200: Banking fosters sustainability
January 18, 2013 09:00 AM
In celebration of Citigroup's 200th Anniversary, we have been sharing stories from our rich history here on this blog. The final installment below covers how the bank began to take a leadership role in promoting sustainability and environmental awareness. Read the 37th installment, which explains how the bank supported American communities through job creation, small-business finance, and affordable housing initiatives, here.
Banking fosters sustainability
For Citi, environmental awareness is a factor in investment decisions, and in the company's own operations
Citi has taken a leadership role in promoting sustainability as an essential facet of responsible finance. This is an ongoing commitment.
In 2003, for instance, Citi was one of four banks which co-developed the Equator Principles, a voluntary set of industry guidelines established to manage the environmental and social risks of project finance on a global basis. Since 2005, Citi has helped finance global infrastructure and development projects run in accordance with the principles to the tune of over $100 billion.
Citi was elected Chair of the Equator Principles Association in 2010. By the following year, over 60 financial institutions were adhering to the principles. When making many project-finance decisions, Citi takes the sustainability issue into account. In May 2007, for example, the company announced a $50-billion, 10-year initiative to finance, and invest in, low-carbon projects and technologies. As part of this initiative, in the United States, Citi helped finance five photovoltaic systems across four campuses in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), in California. The result was a reduction in the cost of electricity of up to 15 percent.
In China, Citi was a joint bookrunner for the initial public offering, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, of China's second-biggest maker of wind turbines, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. Ltd.
Sustainability is a priority in Citi's own operations. In 2010, the company announced its intention by 2015 to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from its buildings by 25 percent compared with 2005.
An example of sustainability in practice is the Frankfurt Data Center. Among other features, the design is optimized for fresh-air "free cooling." The building uses harvested rainwater for all its irrigation needs. Over 70 percent of the roof area is planted with vegetation. Recycled materials were used extensively in the construction.
By 2011, a total of 185 Citi facilities had achieved U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.