This is how we’re getting bank staff to switch to sustainable energy

ABN AMRO’s ambition is to make every aspect of its business more sustainable. And that’s why the bank is giving staff good reasons to switch to renewable energy in their homes. They can even opt for a preferred source of energy.

Does the banker’s washing machine run on electricity generated by a windmill in Flevoland? Or on sustainable energy from solar panels in Purmerend? ABN AMRO employees can now choose which sustainable source the energy in their homes comes from thanks to a new partnership the bank has forged with energy company Vandebron (literally “from the source” in Dutch).

Employees who sign up for renewable power are given a substantial discount on the flat monthly rate, explains Dirk Blees, an Employee Experience consultant at ABN AMRO. The aim of the initiative is to encourage bank staff to make the transition to renewable energy.

Blees says, “We’re constantly looking for ways to make our services more sustainable. Launching the bank-wide Mission 2030 campaign, the bank, in partnership with its corporate and private clients, aims to ensure that all the properties in its portfolio have an average energy label rating of A by 2030. That’s how we arrived at the question of how our own staff can contribute.” The bank then approached energy suppliers about providing ABN AMRO employees with an attractive offer to motivate them to switch to renewable energy.

Raising the profile of sustainable energy

A relative newcomer, the energy supplier and social entrepreneur Vandebron won the bank over with the most convincing package overall. ABN AMRO employees are given a significant discount on the flat monthly rate. While it may not be the lowest in the market, Blees points out that the bank wasn’t looking for the lowest price, but for a company aligned with its own objective of facilitating the energy transition.

“We want to help drive the transition from fossil to renewable energy sources,” affirms Chiel van Leeuwen, Head of Business Development at Vandebron. “One way we’re doing that is by giving renewable energy a face. When customers buy electricity from us, they know where it was generated and that it’s 100 per cent clean.” Customers are free to choose their preferred energy source, and all our suppliers are profiled on our website pictured next to their windmills or solar panels. Van Leeuwen says it’s crucial to get more people interested in renewable energy. “The days when energy was ‘anonymous’ are over. In fact, every one of our sources is based right here in the Netherlands, and anyone is free to visit them if they like.”

Using less power

Blees explains that another reason the bank ultimately went with Vandebron was its innovative business model. He says, “Vandebron has explicitly chosen not to profit from the amount of energy it supplies. Instead, customers pay a fixed monthly fee – the flat rate – regardless of how much they consume.” Van Leeuwen adds, “It’s not our aim to make a margin on energy. After all, a lower power bill for customers is in Vandebron’s own interest. By the same token, the less power they consume, the more customers we can connect to any given source.”

Installing solar panels on unused land

All ABN AMRO employees have now been sent details about the services Vandebron provides (these are also available at vandebron.nl/abnamro). Even temporary staff are invited to make the switch.

Initial reactions have been positive. Those who may still be on the fence are invited to visit one of the sustainable sources on the Open Day organised by Vandebron at the Solar Campus in Purmerend. The Solar Campus is the brainchild of four entrepreneurs who set up solar panels on an area of unused wasteland. Van Leeuwen says, “More and more Dutch business owners and private individuals are working to generate renewable energy. Together with partners like ABN AMRO, we’re trying to connect them with customers who are keen to tap into energy from sustainable sources. That’s the energy transition in action.”

Carbon reduction over the border

The Netherlands certainly isn’t the only country where the energy transition is in full swing. For every ABN AMRO employee who switches, Vandebron has pledged to invest a fixed sum in Original Beans, a project for planting cocoa trees in the South American rainforest. For each of the first 1,000 employees to switch, Vandebron will invest EUR 10 in cocoa trees. The project not only supports the local population, but also reduces carbon emissions, since trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air.