​Commonwealth Bank’s Green Star commitment a ‘game changer’ for the financial services sector

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has made an industry-leading commitment to sustainability, after registering seven bank branches to achieve Green Star ratings.

In March, CBA was the first Australian financial institution to achieve a 5 Star Green Star assessment from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) for the ‘standard design’ of its branch fitouts – a design that could be replicated across CBA’s network.

Now, CBA has registered seven new branches – 200 George Street in Sydney’s CBD, Narellan, Warriewood and Picton in New South Wales, Burpengary in Queensland, plus Tuggeranong and Manuka in the ACT – to achieve Green Star ratings. CBA has set a target of 10 Green Star branch ratings over the current financial year

According to the GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, CBA’s commitment to sustainability is a “game-changer” for the financial services sector.

“While banks have been operating from Green Star-rated offices for some time, CBA is the first to embrace a strategic, large-scale approach to sustainability which takes us one step closer to a zero-carbon future – but does so in a commercially viable way,” Ms Madew says.

“Commonwealth Bank has the framework to roll out Green Star bank branches, and the next step is for CBA’s team to test the approach with scientific and business-like precision. Robust testing of a diverse range of branches – country and city, strip malls and shopping centres – will help refine their process,” Ms Madew explains.

The first to achieve certification is 200 George Street, which has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star rating representing ‘world leadership’ in sustainable interiors. The 200 George Street Branch was assessed across nine Green Star impact categories and incorporates low chemical paints, Forestry Standard certified timber, water-efficient fixtures and fittings, and energy savings of around 40 per cent when compared with existing branches.

Jennifer Saiz, Head of Group Property, Commonwealth Bank, says: “As an organisation, Commonwealth Bank looks to drive positive change through good business practice, and building and operating more sustainable branches is just one way we can achieve this. We are committed to creating healthier workplaces for our people and being a productive member of the communities in which we operate.

“Commonwealth Bank is thrilled to receive a 6 Star Green Star rating for our 200 George Street branch, and looks forward to registering more of our network for certification.”

A growing body of evidence underscores the productivity and health benefits of sustainable workplaces. One landmark study from the University of Notre Dame in the United States examined 562 branches operated by American financial services company PNC. The researchers found that each employee in branches with a green rating generated more revenue, even when offering the same selection of services and products as the non-green branches.

“Commonwealth Bank understands that sustainable workplaces not only cut costs and carbon emissions, but boost workplace health and productivity and improve engagement with customers. This investment in sustainable design is an investment in people and planet,” Ms Madew concludes.