Sustainable Banking Practices for Your Credit Union


Sustainable banking is a concept that prioritizes banking and investment best practices that, while pursuing profits and business stability, also prioritizes social responsibility and environmental sustainability. It shifts the discussion of “the bottom line” to include initiatives that better our communities from social and environmental perspectives.

We recently talked about financial inclusion and equity. Sustainable banking is a broader plan for making your credit union and its operations work better and smarter, for your current and future members. Transparency and trust go hand in hand and positioning your credit union as a trustworthy financial resource is one of the best ways to foster growth in your business. Here are some great sustainable banking practices for your credit union.

Strive for a Certification

Like any industry, there are several top certifications that credit unions and banks can strive for to promote your sustainable banking initiatives and lend legitimacy to your efforts.

The top ethical banking certifications that credit unions are eligible for include:

  • Global Alliance for Banking on Values – This certification group includes fewer than 20 banks and credit unions, but the GABV “is a network of independent banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development.”
  • Fossil Free Certified – This certification is all in the name. Banks and credit unions that hope to include this sustainable banking certification in their brand must not use their funds to finance fossil fuel companies now or in the future. This certification is claimed by only ten financial institutions currently. It was started in early 2022, and the initiatives within it will likely continue to grow quickly with the number of younger customers that choose to support only green businesses.
  • Community Development Credit Union – Spearheaded by Inclusiv, a community development credit union is one that is focused on serving low- and moderate-income people and communities. Targeting the underserved is another avenue by which you can create sustainable banking opportunities at your credit union.

These and other certifications are amazing ways you can show your members and communities that your credit union is committed to using your brand to spark positive change and to support globally prevalent causes.

Green Lending Initiatives

There is a strong correlation between sustainable practices and financial growth, both from personal and business standpoints. Your credit union not only stands to create positive change and contribute to a greener future, but it also brings more money into your institutions.

Green lending for individual and business endeavors is a growing subset of the financial industry. Green energy can help your individual members lower their cost of living and energy bills, and it can also help invite, nurture, and differentiate businesses in your community.

By creating green lending options and other green financial offerings, you can help drive change (and profit) towards more climate-friendly solutions. Green lending initiatives can include everything from bonds and large industrial investment ventures to small personal loans aimed at updating the energy efficiency of the appliances and electrical systems in residential homes.

Sustainability-Minded Financial Education & Events

Your credit union members come to you because of your connections to their community and your staff’s sound financial backgrounds and advice. When it comes to sustainable banking, you have a prime opportunity to help educate your members about green initiatives and involve them in sustainable events.

For example, you can create financial education courses (and hold them in your branches or online) that center around environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). By showing members how and where to invest and focusing on creating greener opportunities, you can help orient them towards a new, more sustainable path that includes people from all backgrounds and financial situations.

You can also host fun events that are aimed at fostering these ideals in your community. You can partner with local nonprofits and charitable organizations to bring awareness to the biggest sustainability challenges for your underserved community members. Hold food drives, sponsor a vegetarian or vegan chili cookoff, and make sure you involve the locals!

These things, as well as creating visual displays in your branches and on your credit union website, speak to the need for sustainability. These can include things like a waste or energy consumption calculator for households, or an infographic that dispels myths about sustainable energy sources like wind and solar power. You can even have guest speakers come in and talk about what local businesses and organizations are doing to increase financial inclusion or cut down on pollution.

By hosting sustainability-minded financial education opportunities and green events, your credit union can establish itself as a force for change, which not only helps the community and environment as a whole, but also sets your business apart and makes it more attractive to a younger clientele.

Technology as a Sustainable Banking Tool

Online self service forms and other tools and processes that cut out the need for certain resources like unnecessary paper consumption are great assets in the shift toward sustainable banking practices. The more things we can do digitally, the smaller our emissions and carbon footprint can be as a credit union and as an industry.

IMSI has a host of technology-forward tools that can assist your credit union in its quest to not only serve your current members, but your future members for generations to come.

Are you interested in exploring IMSI’s offerings? Reach out to us today and request a consultation.

Why Credit Unions Should Offer Sustainable Loans


Your credit union members, whether they have personal or business accounts with you, are becoming more interested in sustainability. Part of customer service today includes offering products and services that better the local community, and the environment.

There are several trends in the financial sector right now, but two of the biggest include financial inclusion and a focus on sustainable banking and loan practices. Let’s talk about the importance of green financing and sustainable loans.

The Basics of Sustainable Loans

Sustainable loans offer low rates and flexible terms and are intended to help individuals and businesses finance projects that increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of a home, business, or another project.

These loans are part of many green financing initiatives that are gaining popularity in the banking industry.

Green financing and sustainable loans can be used to create funds for projects as big as full-scale corporate climate change initiatives or as small as personal projects to install energy-efficient appliances or equipment for your home

Here are some common projects that often qualify for sustainable loans:

  • Purchase of electric vehicles, charging stations, batteries, and similar products
  • Solar and wind energy technologies (wind turbines, solar panels, etc.)
  • Advanced agricultural projects with goals of water purification, ocean cleanup, desalination, irrigation alternatives
  • Green home renovations including the purchase of energy-efficient appliances, electric and hybrid vehicles, updated insulation, and other equipment that aids in the reduction of personal energy consumption
  • Improved landscaping
  • Energy-efficient door, windows, roofing

Sustainable Loans – Evaluation & Proceeds

The proceeds of a sustainable loan must go to a green or sustainable project. And not only that, but the borrower and lender can also work together to determine the objectives of the loan, the management of the proceeds, and the reporting of results.

For example, if a business is looking to switch their company cars out for electric vehicles, the sustainable loan goals should be to meet certain sustainability objectives.

The proceeds of this loan should also not be mixed in any way with other non-green proceeds. And finally, borrowers should generate and organize data with the most recent findings that speak to the use of these proceeds.

Touting Your Sustainable Services

There are also several ways your credit union can become certified in green financing practices, sustainable loans, and more.

If you want your credit union’s sustainable loan program to flourish, you have to market it to the right people.

Listing your loan types out on your website is great for informational purposes, but it doesn’t draw people or businesses to your new green financing programs.

You can spread the word in a lot of innovative and captivating ways. Partner with local green businesses like solar panel providers, green appliance warehouses, or electric vehicle sellers. Offer information about their products and services, and then include your sustainable loan information along with it.

Celebrate eco-friendly holidays like Arbor Day or Earth Day by offering lower rates on sustainable loans or holding special refinancing events.

The inclusion of sustainable loans is just the first in a long list of effective green financing initiatives you can start building at your credit union. Environmental and social concerns continue to be differentiating factors for members and potential members.

Consumers across industries are looking for businesses that are transparent in their practices and dedicated in their commitments to communities in the local area and around the world. It’s time to start positioning your credit union as a forward-thinking, sustainable brand.

Sustainable Loans Help Your Bank Go Green

Green initiatives have been gaining momentum for decades. The effects of climate change have become more apparent, and banking members have started to put pressure on financial institutions and other businesses to prove they are part of the solution and not the problem.

Sustainable loans, mobile banking, online self-service forms, eStatements, and more digital-friendly options are now becoming a standard, rather than a valuable addition to your credit union offerings.

Offering sustainable loans is a small way your credit union can show its commitment to more green financing practices. And it’s much easier than switching all your branches over to solar power.

As we’ve seen with the great digital transformations spurred by the pandemic, the time to create momentum for future green and eco-friendly practices is now. And it’s much easier to do one initiative at a time than it is to try and “catch up” to other financial institutions’ sustainable practices and eco-friendly building certifications.

Sustainable Loan Applications Made Easy

IMSI’s web loan applications create greater efficiency in your credit union’s lending program. It is quick and convenient for borrowers and allows your staff to focus on member requests that need more of a personal or one-to-one discussion.

Whether you want to start a new green lending initiative at your branch, or just increase your lending capabilities to more members, IMSI has web loan and other applications that integrate seamlessly with your Keystone Core.

Check out our website for more information, or request a consultation today.