Today companies around the world are leading the way in green initiatives, adopting a wide range of admirable, in-house sustainability practices such as ambitious recycling programs and the installation of low-energy systems, in addition to financing external green projects of which they want to be a part. In many cases, they are motivated by cost savings and of course, a desire to protect our planet by reducing their carbon footprint. In Lebanon today, many banks and leading companies are actively engaged in green corporate social responsibility programs.
Here we look at Bankmed
What are the green projects Bankmed is engaged in?
Bankmed has been among the first banks in the country to recognize the importance of adopting an ecofriendly approach that helps in reducing its environmental footprint, paving the way for a cleaner and healthier environment. Promoting sustainability through Green Finance, reducing its environmental impact, and embracing ecofriendly initiatives are among the Bank’s main green goals.
In 2009, Bankmed launched its environmental program, the “Happy Planet” program whose aim is to raise awareness about important environmental issues for a healthy and clean planet. The green initiatives, embodied within this program, reflect the Bank’s responsibility toward the greater Lebanese community. The completion of several green projects such as cleaning rivers and beaches has been made possible by engaging the Bank’s staff and clients in the process.
Moreover, the Bank partnered with the Lebanese Government, international organizations, and NGOs in an aim to enhance the program and spread awareness about environmental priorities. Bankmed has also been undertaking several projects aimed at protecting the environment such as cleaning beaches and rivers as well as actively engaging in protecting natural reserves.
In 2015, Bankmed collaborated with Bahr Loubnan Association (a non-governmental organization whose mission is to protect Lebanon’s coastline from pollution) and sponsored the renovation of Al-Naqoura Public Middle School in south Lebanon. The school is the first of its kind in Lebanon and the Middle East to be recognized as an eco-school with zero carbon dioxide emission. The premises fall within the grounds of a model village, where alternative energy is preserved keeping it free of toxic wastes. In addition, the school is powered by solar energy, while its design has taken into account environmental and agricultural aspects; as such, no chemicals were used to plant the trees around the school. Employing environmental solutions helps dramatically in reducing atmospheric concentration within the school’s environment. As such, with all these environmental attributes, the school serves as a model to students, so they can impart environmental knowledge to their parents and grown-ups around them. It equally serves as an example for all schools in Lebanon to follow.
What is Bankmed doing in-house to limit and reduce its ecological footprint?
Bankmed enhances its internal practices in an aim to reveal its serious intention toward reducing its direct and indirect environmental impact. In this regard, the Bank measures its total paper usage as well as its overall energy consumption. Through these practices, Bankmed quantifies its overall consumption in order to devise the necessary measures to contain its environmental footprint.
In order to measure energy consumption, the caretakers at the Bank assess the overall fuel usage by measuring our electricity consumption.
With respect to internal fuel consumption, Bankmed takes two main measures in order to ensure reduction.
First, the generators at the branches are switched off from 12:00 midnight until 7:00 a.m. in an aim to reduce consumption. Nonetheless, to keep servers and ATMs operational, the Bank ensures that they are supplied through long autonomy UPS systems. Only in case the UPS signals a low battery, the generators will automatically start after midnight to recharge the UPS.
Second, the Bank has appointed specific members from the staff maintenance team to make rounds in the Head Office building in order to ensure that all lights are switched off during non-work hours.
In terms of recycling, Bankmed has put in place a recycling policy to encourage employees in facilitating the recycling process. The Bank has also been encouraging its customers to adopt an environmental attitude in their day-to-day banking operations. As such, Bankmed places numerous options for customers to check their accounts and carry out their transactions through their computers or mobiles.
In brief, digitizing clients’ statements and optimizing paper usage within the branches and the Bank’s headquarters have enabled Bankmed to take an active step in protecting the environment.
Tell us about your eco loans to customers. Explain the type of loans and value of loans to date.
In compliance with BDL incentives, Bankmed grants environmental loans aimed at financing eco-friendly projects. Over the last five years, Green Financing loans witnessed a significant surge, recording a cumulative growth of 90%. The value of Green Loans stood at USD 12.3 million as at end of 2015.
The granted environmental loans are aimed at financing new eco-friendly projects or developing old projects, in an attempt to make them sustainable, such as Renewable Energy projects, Ecotourism, and Recycling.
Any other environmental activities to mention?
In addition to energy conservation initiatives, Bankmed has been adopting several initiatives that are aimed at restoring the beautiful image of Lebanon. In this regard, the Bank continued with the forestation initiative, which it started in 2013 in addition to implementing projects aimed at supporting green events and raising awareness, chief among these initiatives is the Bank’s annual Greenest School and Green Student Competition.
For the past six years, Bankmed has been organizing the “Greenest School and Green Student Competition” which has been witnessing a growing success year after year. In its latest edition, the competition featured more than 120 schools, from both public and private institutions, as well as 15,000 students, who exhibited serious effort in displaying talent and awareness. These students creatively produced a wide range of drawings, which highlighted the importance of the ocean under the theme, “The Ocean is the Cradle of Life.” Through this step, Bankmed asserts its commitment to the environment as well as to creating a greener country for tomorrow’s generations.