Credit Unions Go Green for Earth Day
Consumers who switch from printed statements to e-statements, drive a hybrid automobile or insulate their homes are helping to reduce their carbon footprint on the planet. And a growing number of credit unions are doing their part as well by taking their own conservation steps, offering “green” loans and staging other activities that have a special significance on Earth Day.
Gaylord Nelson, a Democratic U.S. Senator and governor of Wisconsin, launched the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 to build greater public awareness about water and air pollution. Nelson died in 2005, but Earth Day has since become a worldwide phenomenon and is considered the event that launched the modern day environmental movement.
For credit unions, going green means helping members take the necessary steps to go easier on the environment. At the $100 million Energy Federal Credit Union, located in Rockville, Md., green loans are an ongoing initiative.
Founded in 1948 by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Energy Federal Credit Union is offering its “Time for spring greening” green loan that enables members to purchase Energy Star appliances and products at rates as low as 7.25% APR. On April 25, the credit union is hosting its Annual Spring Shred Day to help members reduce their paper clutter by securely shredding important documents, with no limit on the number of bags or boxes of documents to shred.
On April 22, Earth Day itself, the $227 million Heartland Credit Union in Madison, Wis., also is offering to shred members’ financial and personal documents free of charge. The “Earth Day Shred Event” will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Heartland’s DeForest and Dodgeville branches.
Green loans are also a focus for the $105 million Santa Cruz Community Credit Union in Santa Cruz, Calif. The credit union’s “Get Green” program provides loans for solar thermal insulation, high-efficiency air conditioning systems, rainwater collection systems, “clean” cars, energy-efficient roofs and more. Low rates and flexible terms apply to all the loans, with 100% financing available for amounts of up to $100,000 when used to finance solar power purchases.
Portland, Ore. is one of America’s most bicycle-friendly cities, and the $76 million USAgencies Credit Union is helping members join the two-wheel crowd by offering bicycle loans. Loans for new bikes priced between $500 and $3,500 can run up to 36 months at an APR of 6.5% to 13%, depending on creditworthiness. Bike accessories also qualify for the loan, but may not comprise more than 25% of the purchase price covered by the loan.
Green loans shine brightly for the $400 million HFS Federal Credit Union in Hilo, Hawaii, especially when it comes to tapping the island’s abundant sunshine. The credit union offers a solar water heating loan that allows members to borrow $5,000 to $10,000 at 0% APR with no closing costs, no down payment costs and no prepayment penalties. The loans also may qualify for state and federal tax credits.
Read more: Educational Employees Credit Union offers energy efficiency loans ...
Green loans also are a feature at the $2.2 billion Educational Employees Credit Union in Fresno, Calif. The EECU Energy Efficiency Loans can be used to purchase Energy Star Appliances, replace furnaces and air conditioners with more efficient models, or install a solar water heating system for pools and spas. Members can borrow up to $25,000 for up to 180 months at rates as low as 6.50%.
Sunmark Federal Credit Union in Latham, N.Y., is challenging members visiting its website with a Going Green quiz from Howstuffworks.com. The $440 million credit union also is urging members to save paper by signing up for eStatements as part of its online banking program.
Redstone Federal Credit Union has taken to its Facebook page in urging its members to celebrate Earth Day by signing up for online banking. The $3 billion Huntsville, Ala., credit union offers all the regular online services, including a personal financial management tool, e-statements and alerts.
Even credit unions north of the border are doing their part for Earth Day. The C$3.8 billion Assiniboine Credit Union in Winnipeg, Manitoba, taking a more creative approach, this year sponsored a photo contest.
Entries were required to illustrate creative uses of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” message, with no limit to the amount of entries from any single photographer. All entrants were then entered into a drawing, with one winner scoring a pair of backstage passes to the Winnipeg Folk Fest this coming July, featuring Arlo Guthrie’s 50th anniversary Alice’s Restaurant tour.
The drawing, of course, takes place on Earth Day.