Greenbacks, Green Banks, and Greenwashing via LEED: Assessing Banks' Performance in Sustainable Construction
A number of large banks have widely publicized their construction of green office buildings. While green building is a worthy endeavor, regardless of the banks' rationale for touting their involvement, it is nonetheless important to examine their motives. Are banks at the forefront of promoting green architecture and design, and if so, why? Clearly, these banks are in an influential position not only as the occupants of buildings themselves, but also as the financiers of buildings occupied by others. On the one hand, green buildings with LEED certification are believed to provide a variety of valuable benefits for their occupants, financial benefits for their owners, and environmental benefits for everyone. On the other hand, exclusive of these benefits, green buildings can enhance the public image of both their occupants and owners. Therefore, banks' promotion of green buildings via LEED might be primarily driven by the less lofty motive of greenwashing—using the appearance of environmental concern to counteract the bad publicity that has recently plagued both individual banks and the industry as a whole. Although intent is notoriously difficult to prove, quantitative and qualitative data support at least a strong presumption that the greenbacks earned by these green banks are not attributable to their working better but to their looking better.
Sustainability: The Journal of Record
Bowers, Brittany; Boyd, Neil; and McGoun, Elton G.. "Greenbacks, Green Banks, and Greenwashing via LEED: Assessing Banks' Performance in Sustainable Construction." (2020) : 208-217.