Although there are many socially responsible banks, credit unions and loan funds, ShoreBank Pacific (an outgrowth of Chicago’s South Shore Bank) stands out for environmentalists eager to put their savings or banking dollars to work directly supporting green efforts. ShoreBank’s website (www.eco-bank.com) is full of loan stories that will warm any environmentally oriented soul. For example, ShoreBank financed equipment for Panel Tech, a company that makes nontoxic plywood. Panel Tech now supports 36 living-wage employees in an economically depressed former timber town in southwest Washington State. Shorebank also gave an expansion loan to Stormwater Management, which uses composted leaves and other natural materials to filter oil, heavy metals and other contaminants out of road runoff.
Why didn’t conventional banks loan these businesses money? "Sometimes businesses come to us because of our reputation, but most often it’s because of our staff of scientists," says Laurie Landers, Shorebank’s eco-deposit manager. "Our expertise in environmental remediation and with [the green training and consulting program] Natural Step gives us insight into business situations that other banks consider too risky or are uncomfortable assessing."