Green Banking - the value of ISO 14001 certification in the financial sector

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“Good environmental practice and good financial performance go hand in hand,” says Otti Bisang of Environmental Management Services at the Credit Suisse Group, which was reportedly the first major financial services institute worldwide to have achieved ISO 14001 certification. In 1995, in collaboration with four other banks and a major insurance company, the Group published its “Guiding Principles on Energy Use”, based on the “Energy 2000” conserva-tion programme launched by the Swiss Government.

Now widely accepted as good management practice, the guiding principles establish environmental objectives concerned chiefly with energy consumption, long recognized as having “the greatest environmental impact of all the bank’s operations”. In his article, Mr. Bisang outlines quantitative goals to reduce electricity, heat and paper consumption and stabilize waste production, and describes some aims of the Group’s “ecocontrolling strategy” involving environmental measurement, auditing and reporting in accordance with ISO 14001.

He reveals that certification of the bank’s offices in Switzerland offers “substantial benefits”, particularly in its relationships with suppliers, investors and the media. “ISO 14001 certification represents external confirmation that we are doing the right things in the right way,” says Mr. Bisang, commenting that it “makes us more attractive to investors and portfolio managers with ‘green’ leanings”. The Group has found negotiating environmental issues with its suppliers and outsourcing partners much easier as a certified company, in some cases requiring such partners to establish their own EMS as a condition of business. He predicts that EMS integration into “normal” management systems will gain in importance as companies realize they can cut costs, manage risks and maximize earnings potential by doing so.

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