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Market News

 July 27, 2007
Wells Fargo Loans $1 Billion for Green Projects

 San Francisco, USA -- Wells Fargo has financed $1 billion to construct LEED certified buildings, the company announced Thursday.

The company has bankrolled 19 LEED buildings in 10 states. The loans ranged from $10 million to $225 millions each for projects that include schools, condominiums, apartments and offices.

These buildings include water efficient landscaping and stormwater collection systems that catch and recycle rain and gray water. Green roofs help conserve energy while features that address air quality, such as efficient ventilation and low-emitting materials, are implemented. Some buildings sport built-in recycling areas and renewable solar or geothermal energy sources.

"We can help protect the environment by supporting the development of energy efficient buildings," said Larry Chapman, head of Commercial Real Estate at Wells Fargo, in a statement. "Wells Fargo has set ambitious lending targets and will continue to develop our expertise by training our lenders about green building practices."

The bank most recently loaned $42.7 million to Thomas Properties Group to build a 192,000 square-foot complex in Austin, Texas. The two three-story buildings called Four Points Centre is expected to earn LEED certification.

Past projects include a $20.5 million two-year construction loan for the Banner Bank Building in Boise, Idaho. The bank took into consideration lower operating expenses from the building's green functions. The 11-story, 184,000 square-foot office building will have digital lighting controls that use occupancy sensors, photocells and dimming ballasts to boost energy conservation. Stormwater will be reclaimed for use in the bathrooms while underfloor air distribution will improve energy conservation and air quality. The building is expected to earn LEED gold certification.

The company has worked to reduce its own environmental footprint, said Company Spokeswoman Stephanie Rico.

"Since about 2000, our corporate property group has focused on conserving energy in our buildings," Rico said, adding that the company has 500 "smart buildings" that are wired to control energy efficiency from a centralized point.

It has six buildings, including its headquarters, are Energy Star-rated for top performance in energy efficiency and its data centers use energy saving free-cooling centers.

The company offers several tool to educate its customers about the benefits of green building. For instance, its home equity group partnered with Build It Green to create an online toolbar that gives tips on greening an existing home. Its national builders division created a toolkit to support green homebuilders. Wells Fargo is working with the U.S. Green Building Council to create a prototype for LEED banking stores.

Customers can potentially use green building improvements to qualify for larger loans based on energy savings. The company also offers the Green EQ2, a loan with a low interest rate intended to help non-profit organizations in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods build affordable green housing. The five to 10-year loans range from $150,000 to $300,000, with an interest rate between 2 percent and 3 percent.