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For many firms, embracing green technologies and practices is an ethical decision. They seek to minimize their effects on the environment, so they implement energy-efficient office designs or seek to recycle more materials in their production processes. These sorts of benefits might have had something to do with J.P. Morgan Chase’s recent decision to retrofit its bank branches to make them more efficient, but it appears that the promise of cost reductions was an even more prominent driver.

By working with General Electric (GE) to devise and install advanced energy management technologies in thousands of bank branches across the country over the next few years, Chase could save several million dollars in costs. The GE-produced system, called Current, promises to reduce consumption of electricity and gas resources by 15 percent, while cutting water consumption for irrigation by 20 percent. It does so by using sensors that indicate when a room is occupied or not. This information then informs the system, which is operated remotely, whether to turn off lights or lower the air conditioning to meet the needs of the workers and customers in each branch. The remote monitoring also promises to alert the bank to problems (e.g., malfunctioning air conditioning unit) before they become critical issues.

Chase acknowledges that such moves could have image benefits too. Consumers appreciate efforts by corporate entities to reduce their energy consumption. Furthermore, potential employees might prefer to work for a bank that takes these issues into consideration.

Still, the primary motivation appears cost related. In the bank industry, the low interest rates that have remained relatively consistent in recent years have reduced profits, and most banks face constant and increasing pressures to cut their costs.

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Source: Emily Glazer, “J.P. Morgan Finds the Newest Banking Fad: Dark Corners,” The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2017