At United, we recognize the role we can serve in managing our impact on the environment we work and live in. There are a few core areas we currently identify to support our goal of leaving the world better than we found it.
Resource and Waste Management
Recycling and Reuse
We encourage recycling and reuse across our branch and office network. In 2021, our branch network recycled nearly 100,000 pounds of paper. New employees receive a branded tumbler to encourage the use of reusable cups over other plastics.
We participate in a paper shredding and document destruction program. This initiative helps safeguard information while also creating shredded paper that is repurposed for future use by an external partner.
We’re currently working to utilize LED lights and low heat emission bulbs without mercury exclusively throughout our footprint. These bulbs use less electricity to produce equal amounts of light, meaning safely lit parking areas and branches for our customers with reduced environmental burden. In 2022, over 75% of our branch networks have been upgraded to LED. Rather than implement at once, we focus the changes as replacements or renovations are needed to minimize excess waste. We expect to upgrade an additional 8–10% of the branch network each year until the upgrades are complete.
We view each of our offices as more than a place to bank or work, but rather a community space. Many of our branches offer community rooms for local organizations to gather, while others offer more unique amenities. Our flagship branch in Greenville hosts a pocket park with fountain, beautifying a previously run-down corner of town. A popular branch in Marietta grows a community garden and shares fresh produce with local residents. A prominent branch in Powder Springs resides in a restored general store paying homage to the historic center of commerce for the Lost Mountain community.
Developing Green Space
As part of the development process for our new HQ, we partnered with TreesUpsate (a nonprofit group in Upstate, SC that plants, promotes, and protects trees) to create a landscape and tree plan. We also engaged with certified arborist to assist in plan development and grew partnerships with other environmentally-focused groups, including Friends of the Reedy, Upstate Forever (a conservation nonprofit that protects land and water and promotes balanced growth), and the Carolina Garden Club.
LEED Certified HQ
Our current Headquarters in Greenville resides in a LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—certified facility. Housing our office here means we’re part of commercial office space designed with the environment in mind and equipped to reduce light pollution, carbon emissions, and power consumption.
WELL Certified New HQ
As part of our efforts to design our new headquarters with the community in mind, our goal is to become one of the first WELL Certified buildings in South Carolina. The new space is intended to encourage positive health and well-being for our employees and customers, while also complimenting the beauty of Falls Park and the downtown community where it will reside.
Product and Service Impact
Renewable Energy Financing
United offers the expertise to help finance Renewable Energy initiatives including solar and battery storage projects. Since the division was created in 2017, our Renewable Energy Financing team has played a critical role in the financings of 119 projects, contributing to the growth of the solar energy industry throughout the country. The program includes unique features like cash flow based structures, direct-lending, club deals and solar tax equity investments with a variety of financing and investment options for distributed and utility scale projects. As of August 2022, our Renewable Energy Finance portfolio was comprised of 41 loans totaling $190,742,226 in commitments and $170,618,298 in outstandings.
As a digital alternative to standard paper statements, we encourage our employees and customers to enroll in eStatements. This offers a safe and secure way to access electronic account notices and statements quickly, while eliminating the use of paper. As of October 2022, we had nearly 215,000 eStatement enrollments.
At United, we understand digital banking is the world of today. We work hard to encourage the use of digital products, such as online and mobile banking, while also working to expand the availability of digital service offerings, like PFM and online account opening.