Banks might not be paying much interest these days. But one bank branch in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is literally generating a much different type of return: excess energy that's returned to the local power grid.
The innovative branch, operated by TD Bank, a major banking corporation headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Portland, Maine, has achieved net-zero energy operations and contributed excess energy to the grid in South Florida, the company said in a statement.
The branch, which opened in May 2011, was the first net-zero energy bank built in the U.S. and is connected to the local Florida Power & Light utility grid. In its first year of monitoring, the bank branch, which has approximately 400 solar panels, generated 111,185 kilowatt hours of energy, of which 4,371 kilowatt hours, or 3.8 percent, was put back on the grid.
The branch has proven the concept of greener buildings and helped TD bank share green-living tips with its customers, said Ernie Diaz, Florida regional president at TD Bank.
"They learn about what we're doing and tell us they want to do something in their own home to be a better partner with the environment, too," Diaz said.
The U.S. Department of Energy defines a net-zero energy building as a residential or commercial property that produces and exports at least as much renewable power as it uses in a year. A net-zero energy building is constructed with energy-efficient technologies that reduce its energy demand and incorporates renewable energy sources that supply at least as much energy as the building uses.
The net-zero energy TD Bank branch also has achieved the highest rating -- platinum -- for buildings that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards. LEED evaluates buildings on the basis of site sustainability, water use, energy efficiency, materials and resource use, and indoor environmental quality.
Forty-one TD Bank locations that relocated and/or opened in 2012 are energy-efficient and LEED-designed, the bank said.
Would the fact that a bank is environmentally sensitive cause you to switch banks?
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