Northpointe Commits To Sustainable Initiatives

August 19, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Earlier this year, Northpointe Bank’s headquarters became the first bank building in the state, outside of metro Detroit, to receive LEED certification. It was the 54th building statewide to receive the designation. 

The company says operating a green, energy-efficient building supports the environment and shows Northpointe’s “commitment to doing the right thing” for the benefit of its employees, customers, shareholders and the community.

The energy efficiency of the building also provides cost savings over the long run. 

Some 98 percent of waste during construction was recycled and 18 percent of all building materials were of recycled content, according to Northpointe. The irrigation system on the site is 57 percent more efficient than a traditional system. Plantings are drought resistent so they’re very low maintenance, and because they’re native species, they can survive without a lot of fertilizer. More trees were planted on the site than are typically found on sites of comparable size, which was done to reduce the heat islands in the surface parking lot. The surface lots also feature six electricity receptacles to accommodate electric cars. 

The interior of the building was designed in such a way that it doesn’t use any more energy than is minimally necessary: It has built-in software systems that identify external and internal temperatures and automatically regulate the heating and cooling in a particular area for occupants’ comfort.

The three-story structure also features low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals that reduce water use by 33 percent. Only low volatile organic compound paints and adhesives were used inside the building, which is capped with a white reflective roof that minimizes heating and cooling costs.

Leonard Lakiri, vice president of sales and marketing, said Northpointe’s current customer base is generally aware of the building’s green features and the fact that it’s LEED certified. There’s signage in the main area of the banking office that outlines the sustainable features of the building and grounds, and the topic of sustainability is typically touched on in the bank’s monthly newsletter for customers, he said.

Customers say that the bank’s commitment to sustainability is meaningful to them, Lakiri said. He suspects it also has attracted some people to take a look at Northpointe who perhaps would not have otherwise. Customers want to do business with like-minded companies, Lakiri said.

In the last few years, there has been a lot of momentum nationwide toward sustainability and green themes, and it’s certainly gaining steam in Grand Rapids, he added.

“When you think about banking in general in West Michigan, it’s an incredibly crowded market. For us, this is a way we can differentiate ourselves, as well as support those who believe in the same philosophy that we do.”

But being green isn’t what does the trick, Lakiri pointed out. The critical piece, he said, is that it’s the people in the building who determine whether a customer wants to do business with Northpointe, and the bank prides itself on an exceptional customer experience.

In the last six months Northpointe has started to transition its message to focus more on prospects and expanding, Lakiri said.

“The message has really been around banking for the future and sustainability, and appealing to the interests customers have. One of the things that customers care about today is sustainability. When you marry that with building customer relationships, understanding customer needs and delivering them exceptional service, I think it’s really a compelling message.”  

Northpointe has a niche in the highly competitive financial services industry. It specializes in difficult-to-finance properties that constitute the nonconforming real estate segment, such as log homes, hunting properties, unoccupied land, odd-sized properties, mobile homes, modular homes, rental units, berm and dome homes, vacation properties and hobby farms.

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