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A green path to a sustainable future

The following selection of archival artifacts reflects Wells Fargo’s commitment to creating a more sustainable future.
Two men looking at solar panels in the desert.
Featured photo caption: Crocker Bank, now Wells Fargo, opened its first solar branch in Palm Desert, California, in 1983.
Wells Fargo & Co. check dated 1893, paid to the order of Sierra Club for 15 dollars, signed by Adolph Sutro.
In 1893, notable financier and philanthropist, Adolph Sutro, drew upon his Wells Fargo account to send money to the recently established environmental organization, the Sierra Club.
Hanging tag with text “Turn off light when not in use. The Fargo Way.”
Wells Fargo & Co. offices used tags to remind Express employees to save electricity, circa 1910.
Seven images showing steps in the recycling of paper waste, with title “Rubbish… a new resource.”
Wells Fargo initiated an ecology program at its San Francisco Operations Center in 1970. By the end of 1971, the bank’s recycling rate reached over 1.5 million tons of paper waste.
Wachovia magazine cover with dark mountain landscape, with title “the goodliest land… a report on our environment.”
Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) published a report on the environment in the August-October 1972 issue of the company magazine, focusing on environmental issues and concerns in regions of North Carolina.
Illustration of piggy bank with trefoil symbol and Save Energy text. Three circles above piggy bank contain a half-darkened light bulb, a speed sign at 55mph, and a thermometer at 68 degrees. Image link will enlarge image.
Fidelity Bank, now Wells Fargo, introduced a “Save Energy” graphic in 1975 to represent its new energy program. Under the program, employees were asked to make maximum efforts to reduce energy consumption by 15 to 25 percent throughout the organization. Fidelity Bank also created an energy conservation committee to find new methods of cutting energy consumption and to aid in eliminating any energy waste.

Eco-friendly alternatives to paper

Wells Fargo Bank will begin printing all of its checks on paper made from a sugar cane byproduct this month.

The byproduct known as bagasse is a crushed juiceless, fibrous residue that is a byproduct of the cane stalks after the mills finish extracting the sugar. The bank’s commitment to this process is discussed by Wells Fargo Executive Vice President Robert L. Kemper.

Our customers used 200 million checks a year.

It would take 8,000 trees to produce paper for that many checks.

We have instructed our printers to use bagasse when their current paper stocks are depleted.

Each of the new bagasse checks will have an ecology symbol in the lower righthand corner.

Twenty-five cents of each check order will be sent to an ecological endeavor of the customer’s choice. These twenty-five cent contributions will create a fund of $75,000 a year for environmental groups.

In studies conducted since last May by the bank printing quality both on four-color and standard checks holds up very well and post-encoding processes necessary to root a check from the time it is written to the time it is returned to the customer in his monthly statement do not affect the paper substantially.

Balentine pulp and paper division of Litton industries of

Rock Port Louisiana, the one firm in the United States which converts bagasse to paper says that after an initial step of extracting the soft, spongy core of the cane, bagasse processing coincides with that of wood pulp including the cooking, screening, and bleaching processes.

But the most important thing is that this process will be another step in the program to recycle waste products and preserve our natural resources.

In 1972, the bank bought bagasse, a waste product created during the processing of sugar cane. The recycled sugar cane fibers created a quality paper that held the bright colors of the stagecoach checks that many customers prized.

Wells Fargo Bank Ecology Donation form with ecology symbol made up of mountains, water, and sun.
Wells Fargo established an Ecology Donation Program in 1972. When purchasing a new supply of checks, customers could elect Wells Fargo to donate a portion of the check purchase price to an ecology group of their choice.
Office building exterior: section of roof has sloped angle.
The Mesa branch of United Banks of Colorado, now Wells Fargo, was constructed at a 45-degree angle from the street to allow for the addition of solar energy panels. The building opened in 1978.
Three women pose around a stack of paper in an office.
Wells Fargo’s Paper Reduction Campaign in 1984 included a slogan contest. The winners’ slogans — “The Paper Re-shaper” and “Join the Paper Roundup” — were displayed on paper stackers in offices.
Triangular recycling symbol made up of three chasing arrows with “AGE” in center.
In 1991, A.G. Edwards (now Wells Fargo) introduced a new recycling symbol to appear on company publications. The design is patterned after the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol that originated from the inaugural Earth Day in 1970.
Illustration of green plants with title “The Greening of Norwest.”
Norwest Bank Iowa, now Wells Fargo, highlighted the bank’s “greening” efforts in the January-February 1991 issue of company publication Newsbreak, which included expanding its recycling program, discontinuing the use of styrofoam, and raising environmental awareness among employees.
Wells Fargo brochure with text “The Next State in ATM banking is here!” and “No envelope required!” ATM display screen of check deposit in center.
Wells Fargo’s first envelope-free ATMs rolled out in a pilot in northern California in 2002. ATMs began accepting deposits without an envelope, which helped reduce waste, saving trees and reducing air pollutants.
On left, woman standing in front of windmills in open field with blue sky, holding sign with text “Someday my purchasing will help purchase power.”
Wells Fargo became the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the United States in 2006, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Connections magazine cover of a man standing in front of a windmill with blue sky background, with title “How Green Is Your Company?”
The cover story of the March 2007 issue of Connections, an employee magazine, put the spotlight on how “everyday actions — large and small — are bringing Wells Fargo to the forefront of environmental leadership in corporate America.” Pictured on the cover is a Wells Fargo Green Team member visiting the Shiloh Wind Power Plant in Solano County, California. Green Teams were groups of employees who participated in Wells Fargo’s sustainability efforts and environmental activities in their communities, supporting green initiatives, sharing environmental activities and events with other employees, and raising awareness about sustainable opportunities, among other efforts.
Color photograph of a solar array on top of a Wells Fargo building.
In 2009, Wells Fargo began installing solar photovoltaic systems on the roofs of 10 retail banking stores in the Denver metro area, Colorado.
Large solar panels lined up in rows on ground.
One of five Wells Fargo-owned tracking photovoltaic solar projects developed by SunEdison in southeastern New Mexico, among the largest in the United States, 2012.
Three women posing with bicycles in bank branch.
Wells Fargo employees from the Whittier branch in southern California commute by bicycle in 1974, during the time of the energy crisis.
Advertisement for First National Bank of Arizona, Paradise Valley Office, showing a small vehicle and text “You’re invited to see… The Citi Car, the exciting new two-passenger electric car.”
In 1975, First National Bank of Arizona (now Wells Fargo) invited customers see a CitiCar on display in the lobby at the Paradise Valley office. The CitiCar was an electric vehicle produced from 1974 to 1977 by Sebring-Vanguard, Inc.
On left, two people riding mopeds into Crocker Bank parking lot. On right, woman with bicycle in front of Crocker Bank administrative offices.
In 1979, Crocker Bank’s employee publication featured commuters who chose more economic and environmentally conscious ways than cars to get to and from work. Crocker Bank merged with Wells Fargo in 1986.
On left, diagram showing how light is converted into energy using a solar thermal system. On right, people seated at desks in bank branch with red and yellow tubing behind a glass wall.
Wells Fargo opened its first solar-powered branch in Culver City, California, in 1979. Much of the mechanism was visible and passersby could see how the system functioned by peering from the inside lobby through a glass wall or from the outside.
Two people at table displaying First Interstate Bank of Oregon’s Earth Day tote bags, mugs, and other promotional items.
Employees at First Interstate Bank of Oregon (now Wells Fargo) participated in an Earth Day crossword puzzle contest, 1991. The winners received prizes promoting reuse.
Blank Wells Fargo Bank check with text “Ask me about our Recycled Checks!”
As part of Wells Fargo’s commitment to using recycled paper in all areas of business, the bank introduced checks printed on recycled paper in 1991. Branch employees wore tags such as this one to help promote recycled checks.
Brochure cover for Wells Fargo Environmental Affairs, with girl standing in front of a row of windmills, holding a pinwheel.
Wells Fargo’s Environmental Affairs brochure in 2010 described how the company is aiming to bring a “greater connection between banking and the environment, to help influence positive change.”
Close up view of a hand plugging in electric car to charge.
Wells Fargo’s electric vehicle charging station program for employees began in 2013 with a pilot at Home Mortgage headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. The bank started with two charging stations in Des Moines; two in Phoenix, Arizona; four in Charlotte, North Carolina; and one in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. The program expanded to 42 charging stations in eleven states by 2016.
Report cover titled “Smart Cities, Connected Communities” with illustration of a city skyline, windmills, elevated train, and various vehicles on road.
The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²) was launched in 2014 by the Wells Fargo Foundation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with the goal of de-risking innovations and speeding clean technologies to commercial markets. In August 2017, IN² convened a Summit and brought together more than 150 stakeholders from across the country to discuss innovation in residential buildings, transportation, agriculture and food systems, and water use as the keystone for building smart and connected communities.

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