2011 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards in partnership with Bethesda Green
Category: Businesses that have significantly incorporated green practices into their culture and operations
Since elementary school, Kristin and Lauren Lane have lectured their father about his impact on the planet, asking why he doesn’t recycle more, and suggesting he rethink his driving habits.
“The children would remind the father to turn off the lights when leaving a room,” John Lane says sardonically. And “as they got older, they got more serious about it.”
Though Kristin, now 14, and Lauren, now 16, may have thought he wasn’t listening, Lane was thinking hard not only about his personal choices, but about the carbon footprint of Congressional Bank, where he serves as president and CEO. Earlier this year, Lane brought up the idea of “green” in a meeting of bank management, “fully expecting to carry the conversation myself.” He was pleasantly surprised by the reception.
“It was as if they were thankful that someone had brought it up,” he says. “They picked it up from there. And it turned into a furor.”
A month and a half later, the Bethesda-based bank became the first bank to complete the Green Business Certification Program, a voluntary effort run by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and Montgomery College.
The bank switched to renewable electricity by partnering with Clean Currents to purchase wind and solar power. It installed filtered water dispensers and reusable cups, and removed disposable paper products from break areas. In addition, moving to two-sided printing cut the bank’s paper usage nearly in half, says Jessica Fox, Congressional’s vice president for loan administration.
Many of the suggestions came from the bank’s staff, Fox says. When it launched a contest offering cash prizes for the best “greening” ideas, every employee came up with at least one suggestion. And long after, Fox says, “people still come to me with suggestions. It has definitely made a lasting change to the bank’s culture.”
Jeff Weiss, a Congressional client, says the bank’s green awakening has been good for his company, too. Distributed Sun is a Washington, D.C., firm that develops and operates commercial solar arrays, projects that require up to $5 million in upfront financing. “Solar isn’t highly banked,” Weiss says. “It’s a new field, and Congressional is embracing it with us.”
As for Lane, he says his daughters now tell him how proud they are of him.