HG: SustainAbility Column December 06, 2008

It is not surprising David Miller is the chairman of Alpine Bank’s Green Team. Nor is it surprising that this community bank became the first financial institution in the state to bring home the Gold.

While growing up in suburban Long Island, N.Y., Miller was a 4-H club member for 10 years and absorbed the philosophy that he could make a difference.

As a young professional, he was a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club where he learned to combine enjoyment of the outdoors with education and stewardship.

Miller moved to the Grand Junction area in 2003 as a “trailing spouse” with his wife, Anne Wenzel, and their children. He took time to research employment options and was drawn to Alpine Bank and its supportive corporate culture.

Alpine Bank is a community banking institution with 38 locations in western Colorado and more than 520 employee-owners. The company encourages input from employee-owners at all levels and has a high retention rate.

Early in the 2000s, Alpine Bank launched a number of employee-driven environmental projects. Miller entered the scene late in 2004, just in time to help formalize the “spontaneous positive energy” into the Green Team in 2005.

Miller suggested a meeting with a sustainable business consultant, which resulted in Alpine retaining the company to create and implement a formal Environmental Management System.

In 2006, Alpine Bank went a step further by pursuing the universally recognized standard for environmental management: ISO 14001 certification.

Alpine Bank earned this certification and maintains it through audits and a sustainable, continuous improvement process.

Miller, whose other title is electronic banking officer, and his family were drawn to the Grand Valley because of the outdoor opportunities.

He said Alpine Bank values quality of life and understands there are many types of capital, including environmental capital. It’s all about “being smart with the resource that really matters.”

The Green Team set goals for 2012 to reduce energy and paper use by 20 percent, reduce water consumption by 10 percent and reduce courier fleet fuel consumption by 25 percent.

To reach those goals, the team is running recycling programs, establishing a green
purchasing policy and starting a pilot program at the Grand Junction bank for non-toxic cleaning and maintenance products.

Another big push is utilizing renewable power for electric energy needs at bank locations.

Alpine is purchasing clean power where it is available and investing in the Colorado Carbon Fund for locations where renewable power is not offered.

Other actions include working toward paper-free communications, providing annual training for employee-owners about environmental policy, following Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in new buildings and updating lighting systems.

Alpine Banks also “walks the talk” by providing discounted rates for green loans for fuel-efficient cars, green home construction and mortgages and home energy upgrades.

Community education about environmental efforts is a big part of the Green Team. Miller has given presentations to several groups, including the Grand Junction City Council, and was a guest lecturer for a Mesa State College class.

Alpine Bank’s “Loyalty Check Card” program donates 10 cents per transaction to community efforts and the “environment” card is the most popular choice.

In October, all of these efforts lead to Alpine Bank being named a “Gold Leader” by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Environmental Leadership Program. Alpine Bank is one of 15 new Gold Leaders, joining 18 previous companies and organizations receiving the designation.

Miller’s work with the Green Team convinced him “you can make more money by doing the right thing.”

To find out more, go to http://www.alpinebank.com/bottom-nav/about-alpine/green-initiative.php.


Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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