A Green Bank in Florida

Solar power and sustainable materials help First Green Bank lead by example in Winter Park

Florida’s First Green Bank is a new kind of financial institution. It proudly describes itself as “a local bank with a global mission™” and the first of its kind to promote positive environmental and social responsibility. First Green Bank subscribes to a values-based business model which endeavors “to do the right thing” for the environment, the people and the community.

First Green believes in fulfilling this mission by example. It encourages green efforts by making energy related designated loans accessible to the public. It offers discounted interest rates for commercial and residential projects that meet green building requirements of the USGBC. It offers loan and grant programs to encourage solar panel installation. The non-profit “First Green Foundation” provides assistance for solar systems and backs community-supported agriculture. First Green offers 0% interest loans for purchases of fuel efficient vehicles and its employees can receive scholarships to receive LEED AP certification. CEO and Chairman Ken LaRoe is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) himself.

First Green Bank’s environmental and social mission come together dramatically in its new Winter Park branch.

First Green has shown an interest in sustainable design, especially for the boutique-type branches it is steadily opening across Central Florida. When First Green Bank enlisted VOA’s Orlando office to perform architecture, interior design, and sustainable design for the Winter Park branch, it wanted a building that would speak to its mission. But VOA’s design went further. The project presented a unique opportunity for VOA to create a showcase bank in partnership with the client that expresses the institution’s role as a community leader fostering sustainable practices. First Green Bank President Paul Roundtree agrees,“VOA understood the design vision and goals of First Green Bank. The design team brought extensive depth and experience to the design process, and was committed to creating a truly unique environment for the customers, shareholders and employees of First Green Bank.”

Materials and design
The use of recycled products throughout the design reflects the owner’s strong commitment to the environment. The walls are draped with rapidly renewable bamboo. Terrazzo flooring composed of recycled glass, aggregates and sand was used throughout the lobby space. Carpet tiles for the conference room and administrative offices were selected based on their high recycled content (58% post-industrial and 5% post-consumer). Oak trees from the original site were milled and installed as flooring and ceiling accents, forming a vital connection between the bank and the surrounding environment. The design offers abundant daylight throughout the space with at least 90% of its workspaces exposed to natural light.

Power generation
Four photovoltaic panels were installed to generate enough energy to accommodate the bank’s estimated electrical needs of 68.8 kilowatts annually. The bank features a charging station for electric vehicles, further impacting the reduction of the bank’s carbon footprint. The project was designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification. 

The design details the bank’s environmental efforts with informative signage while local artwork brightens the space with visions of stewardship and creativity. Customers, shareholders and employees are surrounded by an abstracted story of growth, purpose, and First Green’s ongoing commitment to doing good for the planet and the local community.

Update: This article originally suggested that First Green Bank would operate as a NetZero project. Usage data from the newly operational building shows that the building produces 69% of its energy, so that it does not meet the standard to be NetZero.

Size: 6,360 square foot
Team: Jonathan Douglas, Alec Sithong, John Page, Stephanie Moss, and George Mella
Photography by Stephen Allen Photography

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