Triodos Bank has been a leading expert in sustainable banking for over 30 years. The organisations we finance, and how finance them demonstrates what we mean by that. We believe, for example, that genuinely understanding our clients, their business and the markets they work in, or being open and transparent about how we use our saver's money is key to a sustainable financial sector.
We are dedicated to financing positive change. We have built a track record financing organisations that work in the nature and the environment, social business and culture and welfare sectors; because we believe that their success will lead to a sustainable economy that's better for people, the environment we share, and culture.
Sustainable Banking is using money with conscious thought about its environmental, cultural and social impacts, and with the support of savers and investors who want to make a difference, by meeting present day needs without compromising those of future generations.
For a transition from a carbon-based economy to a sustainable economy, it's essential to reduce energy demand, to use energy as efficiently as possible, and to invest massively in renewable energy systems, while switching to low carbon fuels.
Triodos Bank considers energy to be a basic human need and therefore something that we need to ensure is being generated and used on a sustainable basis for future generations.
Our relationship with the soil and the earth requires a systemic perspective.
We can no longer afford to keep a world view that thinks of agricultural land as the starting point for a limitless process of extraction. Rather, agriculture needs to be seen within the context of a natural system. This system includes nutrients, water, biodiversity, animal welfare and social conditions.
The built environment - homes, offices, shops and other business premises - has a large environmental impact. According to calculations by the Environmental Programme of the United Nations, buildings currently consume 40% of all energy that is produced in the EU and contribute a similar proportion of Europe’s carbon emissions. If we are to make the transition to a genuinely sustainable economy, we need to address how we build and maintain buildings for the future of our planet.
Not just CO2
Apart from the direct environmental impact of buildings, the quality of the built environment also affects the well being of residents and users and how we experience our living environment. To achieve quality of life, we humans do not only need safe shelter - a space to live and work - but there must also be sufficient space for recreation and respect for the needs of others sharing the same space. Where we build and how our buildings impact the neighbourhood and the residents of that neighbourhood should therefore also be considered in the overall assessment of real estate projects.
Banking and real estate fund
Triodos Bank is involved in the development of sustainable real estate in two ways. We provide loans to developers or building owners and in some countries we provide private mortgages to individuals who want to buy a home or renovate their home to be more energy efficient. We were the first bank in the Netherlands to offer a mortgage that rewards energy efficiency: the more energy efficient the home, the lower the mortgage rate.
Secondly, there is the Triodos Real Estate Fund (Vastgoedfonds). The fund buys and invests in sustainable real estate. As the real estate owner the fund can influence the sustainability of its buildings very directly.
Preserving the old, updating the new
The majority of buildings around us today are still likely to be here in 50 years’ time and many historic buildings will continue to be preserved for the cultural role that they play.
For existing properties, renovation and retrofitting projects can dramatically improve the sustainability of a building – including insulation measures, low-energy lighting and heating, advanced control systems and low-energy appliances. The way in which a property is used also plays an important role in its overall impact; for example, the degree to which an office building is kept fully occupied and uses telecommunication technology such as videoconferencing to reduce business travel.
Construction and renovation
During construction and renovation we need to make smart choices about sustainable construction materials and new technologies for the use of energy and water by residents and users. We are extending our impact by working with more diverse ownership structures such as community renewable energy schemes and financing energy efficiency infrastructure within the built environment.
How we demolish buildings and reuse materials or manage the waste from demolition also needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating property development.
The building and its future impact
Triodos Bank not only takes into account if offices and business premises are used efficiently and sustainably by the owners and occupants today, but also if they are designed in a way that makes them multifunctional for the future. Business property that can easily be converted into consumer housing for instance, is more sustainable than a building that only has one use.
Arts and culture play an important role in the personal development of individuals and the cohesion of society as a whole. Creative expression provides new perspectives, inspires and connects people.
Arts and culture should contribute to personal development and a vibrant civil society. They can inspire and motivate change.
The cultural sector is dynamic and versatile. Cultural entrepreneurship is booming. Many institutions are wholly or partly commercial and target a wide and diverse audience. Triodos Bank fits in to the dynamics of a sector with this entrepreneurial focus and finances innovative cultural entrepreneurs to help increase its impact.
We believe that education brings huge benefits to the individual in terms of personal development and well-being – and to society in terms of economic development and social cohesion.
Because Triodos Bank believes in improving quality of life across the social spectrum, it argues that it is important that the education system is sufficiently diverse and inclusive to cater to the needs of all individuals no matter what their abilities.
Some educational establishments practicing progressive education concepts, or those working with individuals with special needs, require financial support other than government funding. We aim to contribute to maintaining and nurturing this diversity within the education system – to produce positive impact for individuals, their families and society.
There are many social organisations and charities developing commercially viable approaches to tackling social problems. At the same time, we see a growing number of social entrepreneurs: individuals creating new business models driven by a social motive to serve a specific group in their community or in society, underpinned by the notion of disciplined business management.
We see the potential for this emerging ‘Social Economy’ sector to play a positive and significant role alongside the public sector and the conventional business sector in shaping our future economies.
Triodos Bank supports providers of care services who demonstrate a human-centred approach at the heart of their organisation.
By financing values-based care providers, especially those focused on elderly and special-needs, we can help improve the quality of life for individuals in care and the overall wellbeing of a society in the midst of a transition in how we organise social care.
Access to finance offers a lifeline to millions of people enabling them to better manage their daily life, cope with unexpected difficulties, fulfill aspirations and plan for the future. Yet, there are still two billion people worldwide who are excluded from basic financial products and services.
Based on our deep-rooted commitment to make money work for positive change, Triodos Bank aims to address this challenge because we strongly believe that access to finance gives people the freedom of choice to pursue the life they wish to live. Inclusive finance offers financial services, including savings, credit, and insurance to traditionally underserved people. These services enable them to better support themselves and their families and improve their quality of life.