Bank Branch Realizes Green Dividends

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 139 views 

Arvest Bank Group Inc.’s green efforts have gone gold.

Having spent the better part of a decade focusing on constructing increasingly environmentally friendly branches, Arvest sought to substantiate it efforts in the form of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. Thus, Arvest Bank – Fayetteville broke ground on its Joyce Boulevard branch in hopes of attaining a Silver rating.

Fast-forward about two years, and Arvest’s aims have been validated and then some. In addition to becoming the state’s first LEED-certified bank, Arvest recently learned it will receive a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Arvest also is this year’s winner of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s “Greenest Office” contest, as selected by a panel of judges steeped in sustainability.

“That alone almost makes Arvest a shoo-in as the overall winner,” one judge commented. ” Most people have no idea what goes into Gold certification and how hard it is to attain.”

Donny Story, president and CEO of Arvest Bank-Fayetteville, said the recognition confirms that right choices were made when plans for the Joyce Boulevard branch were finalized.

“We looked at it from a couple of standpoints,” Story said. “For one, we looked at doing it the way we wanted to do it and the way we usually do it, and it was pretty close cost-wise, anyway.

“More than that, though, we just felt like it was the right time and the right thing to do.”

‘Go For It’           

Brent Vinson is Arvest’s site and planning coordinator. As such, he handled environmental site assessment for the Joyce Boulevard branch.

That included studying issues ranging from soil studies and drainage to vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow. After all the angles had been considered, the green light was given.

“This is the one we decided, ‘We’re going to go for it,'” Vinson said.

Arvest worked with CDI Contractors LLC and Wittenberg, Delony & Davidson Inc. in designing and constructing the facility. Kelly Sutterfield, Arvest’s architectural manager, said cost increases implemented to help attain the Gold rating were less than 10 percent compared to similar projects.

And while some of those features – like bioswales, low-flush toilets and an educational “green wall” are apparent to many customers – some of the most impressive work is beyond normal lines of vision.

“It’s not what you see,” Sutterfield said, “but what you don’t see that makes it so efficient.”

That started with the use of recycled materials during construction, and included low volatile organic compound content in carpet, paint and adhesives. Arvest even performed a fresh-air “flushout” prior to opening.

The idea behind the practice is to eliminate any chemical fumes lingering in the building. Sutterfield said the process did in days what might ordinarily take years.

Another highlight is a water system that allows rainwater from the roof to be drained into two cisterns located under the parking lot. That water is used for toilets and a drip irrigation system.

Vinson said using collected rainwater for toilets is a first not just in Fayetteville, but the state of Arkansas. The drip irrigation system, meanwhile, reduces the amount of water either lost to evaporation or wasted on sidewalks.

The bioswales hold water that is pumped from a pervious-pavement parking lot. The lot is built in a manner that allows rainwater to seep through, then be piped into the bioswales. It’s held there until it re-enters the water table.

“That’s not widely done,” Vinson said of the pavement system.

Other features include everything from bike racks and indigenous landscaping to a branch-wide recycling program and the use of “green” cleaning products.

“It all came together in a package that is reflective of what Arvest is trying to do as a bank,” Sutterfield said.

Easy-to-see Environmentalism

Because some of the systems in place aren’t readily visible, Vinson said the idea of an interpretive trail was hatched. Customers can follow the trail and learn about Arvest’s sustainability efforts with almost every step.

“It’s an educational way to teach children, and adults, who come into the bank what sustainability is all about,” Vinson said.

There’s also a “green wall” for more time-strapped customers. The display allows anyone to learn what’s going on in regard to the water system, energy efficiency, etc.

“That really told people, ‘This is what’s happening,'” Sutterfield said.

Now Arvest is telling a similar story at other branches. Its Springfield, Mo., branch opened in August and currently has a Silver rating that might eventually be upped to Gold.

“We’re going to continue to grow our green initiatives,” Sutterfield said.