When officials at Northwest Georgia Bank decided to build its 10th branch, the plan involved a whole new kind of green.
The Ringgold, Ga.-based bank today breaks ground on its newest and most environmentally friendly branch, a decision that in the long run could save the bank that other green — money.
The new bank is going up at Two North Shore on Manufacturers Road and will be built according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. When it is completed, the Northwest Georgia Bank will be the first LEED-certified bank building in Hamilton County, the council said. Currently there are no other LEED-certified bank buildings in the state, according to officials at the USGBC.
All of the businesses in the North Chattanooga shopping center have been built according to the LEED standards, which includes parking spaces reserved for low-emissions vehicles or carpoolers.
“We want to be a part of the partnership that helps environmentally sound buildings because it is not only good for business, but it’s also good for the quality of life for all of us who live here and play here, too,” said Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer of Northwest Georgia Bank.
“Our numbers show that building a green building works financially and being fiscally responsible — we’ll get that savings back in the long run.”
The new branch will cost about $1.6 million to build, according to bank officials, who said the LEED certification could save the bank about 20 percent in energy costs.
Some of the energy-saving components in the bank’s building include using sensors that turn the lights off automatically when no one is in the room, said Jeff Kovach, chief financial officer at Northwest Georgia Bank. Also, he said, all waste from the construction of the bank will be recycled.
Northwest Georgia officials has chosen to aim for LEED’s Silver Certification, which would be achieved by accumulating points for such things as making bike racks available and providing a shower for employees who want to walk or ride to work.
There will be reflective roofing and landscaping that will utilize drought-resistant plants.
Mr. Kovach began overseeing new branch construction in recent weeks, well after the project was under way, so he has had some catching up to do in learning about the challenges of building green.
“From what I have (seen) so far, it is actually not that big of a challenge,” Mr. Kovach said. “It’s more of an education process and more of learning that it doesn’t take a whole lot ... (and) you might not get dark green, but you will get a shade of green.”
Northwest Georgia Bank got a grant of $55,000 through the GreenSpaces partnership that will take care of the application process and any other items need to make the building green. The 6,500-square-foot branch is expected to be completed in September and will have a staff of about 15 employees.
Building the green bank has been and will continue to be a learning experience for the bank, Mr. Smith said. But taking on the challenge of building such a bank branch fits in well with the 103-year-old bank’s overall mission, he said.
Once the project gets under way and is in operation, he said the bank will be able to see if the actual energy savings match the projected numbers on paper.
“I think for right now, this is our first one, it certainly makes sense for us being downtown and the rest of the buildings here,” he said. “I think we are going to get this one done, and we’ll look at it going forward for other branches.”