A Conversation With ... Rodney Shepard
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 11:19 AM
Arvest has two local branches built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, with a groundbreaking held May 7 for a third. Why has Arvest chosen to make sustainability a priority?
Company: Arvest Bank
Title: Springfield president, since February 2011
Education: Bachelor’s in management, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Okla.; Master of Business Administration, Webster University; Graduate School of Banking, Louisiana State University
We want to be good stewards of our natural resources, and that’s probably what started a lot of this inside our company. If we can utilize less energy in terms of our operations or deposit fewer items in a landfill, in a small way, we really think that helps whatever footprint that we have in a given community. In our company, there’s just a sense that we ought to utilize what we have, and if we can’t, can someone else utilize them? To some extent, that’s why there’s a push for recycling some items we use on a day-to-day basis, or (with) the construction of our facilities, you see (utilization) of a lot of natural light.
Are all of Arvest’s new branches going to be sustainable or does that vary by market?
We don’t have a corporatewide mission to say that we’re to build (all branches) to LEED standards to get them all certified, but we’re incorporating a number of things that have us really close, anyway. For example, lighting inside our branches – we’re beginning to use (light-emitting diode) lighting inside most of our branches. The white, reflective roofing – we’ve been utilizing that in our locations, and that’s something that we’ll probably continue to use. There’s an appreciation here in Springfield for the LEED standards, and for us to be a part of this community, we think it’s important that we build our branches in that fashion.
What are some of Arvest’s everyday sustainability practices that could be replicated by other businesses?
Some things would be maybe a little tougher for others. The LED lighting is more expensive, but that’s one thing we use. Our HVAC systems have real high-efficiency units. So as individuals or businesses look to upgrade, or if, unfortunately, one goes out and they need to replace it, they could look at that. Recycling is a big deal, from paper recycling to toner cartridges that we use inside our facilities. As our associates drink water out of aluminum or plastic bottles, we have recycle bins inside our facilities for paper, aluminum and plastic. We encourage our associates – and our customers – to use e-statements for their deposit accounts. We encourage our folks, if they take subscriptions to trade magazines, to do it electronically versus having that paper copy come.
Do you get a lot of feedback from customers about Arvest’s sustainable aspects?
Particularly when the location at Chestnut and National was built, there was a lot of publicity around it, though I was not in town at the time. We have a self-guided tour so people can walk around and see the elements that we put into the facility. Even (now), people stop and will read some of the elements and come in and ask a question or two: ‘Why are you all doing this?’ or ‘Has some of this stuff worked or paid off?’ or what vendors did we use to help put some of these elements together, be it landscaping or lighting or whatever.
From a utilities costs and usage standpoint, do you have comparative data for the LEED branches and others?
We don’t have hard numbers, for a couple of reasons. The Chestnut and National location has been up and running since July 2010, but we’ve not completed a comparison of that branch, at that size, because we don’t have another one that’s comparable to it. The branches are all different sizes. So we don’t have a side-by-side comparison for branches in the same city. With this prototype, we do have a branch built like it in another city, but utility rates, because they’re going to vary, we can’t tell (if it has) paid off. What we do know, maybe from a philosophical standpoint, is we’re using less energy. And we know that we’re not sending things to end up in the landfill.
How can business leaders get started on the path to sustainability?
I would go to some folks who have started down that road, just to find out what might make sense in their business practices. They can take our tour, and obviously, we would be happy to share the things that we can share about what we’ve done in our facilities. There are the folks at City Utilities. I know they would be willing to help, or the folks at O’Reilly Hospitality, which recently received LEED-Gold and has two LEED facilities in town. They’ve done some things and done them for a reason. At least for us, it hasn’t been that hard to implement some things in our company. Start with the easy stuff. The recycling piece is easy, but it’s a behavior. And it can translate from work to home, and from there, it can grow. If you can get your employees involved, you can make a big difference doing some small things.