Local banks still exist, but are increasingly the sort of thing grandparents talk about walking past on their way uphill to school (and then again, on the uphill home) back in the old days. The tellers knew your name, the locations were convenient, there were no grandiose jerkweeds in a back room tranching and re-tranching your mortgage, then making trillions of dollars worth of bets on whether or not you’d pay it back, and then going out for steak and yelling profanities at each other. Commerce Bank was one such nice-guy local bank — except for the unfeasible dual-uphill-location thing — before it was purchased by Canadian banking giant TD Banknorth back in 2007. As so often happens with your bigger banks, TD Bank went about alienating New Jerseyans (admittedly, not difficult) by acting like a Canadian Banking Giant. It will take more than some solar-enhanced drive-throughs and a bunch of carbon offsets to win back Jersey — we’re like that — but TD Bank’s recent announcement that it plans to go carbon neutral at least is a sign that the erstwhile Canadian Banking Giant is dedicated to being a Responsible Canadian Banking Giant. Giant baby steps, people.
The South Jersey Courier-Post‘s Eileen Smith has more on TD Bank’s greening, which includes both the aforementioned solar-skinned drive-through canopies, as well as blocks of wind power, sustainable finishes and landscaping, and more efficient plumbing and electrical systems. The carbon neutral part, as per usual, will come through carbon offsets, of which TD has purchased a whopping 31 million metric tons. TD Bank will have some work to do in catching Jersey’s PNC Bank for the coveted (and imaginary) Greenest Bank in Jersey honors — of the Garden State’s 78 LEED-certified buildings, 21 are PNC Bank branches, with a new LEED-certified PNC Bank branch opening this weekend — but at the very least they’re trying. Once you lose New Jersey, it’s hard to win New Jersey back — ask Jon Corzine, Bruce Ratner or MTV about that — but TD Bank deserves credit, with the usual caveats about the general lawless corniness of carbon offsets, for trying to be a good citizen of the Garden State.