Measuring Our Impact

Bank Clearwater Credit Union
Client Paul Herendeen
Location Missoula, Montana

Interview with Paul Herendeen, Director of Impact Market Development at Clearwater Credit Union

An important part of Clearwater Credit Union’s commitment to values-based banking is understanding and taking responsibility for the environmental footprint of our business. In this story, we talk to Paul Herendeen, Director of Impact Market Development, about the focus of our very first Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

What does the EIA measure?

The EIA measures the impact of business operations. It’s helpful to think about it in two parts. The first examines broad-scale impacts. For what we do, this mostly means greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. The second looks at local impacts including our water use, solid waste generation, and air pollutant emissions. The assessment covers direct effects, things we do on site, as well as indirect effects like corporate travel and employee commuting.

Tell us why the measurement of Clearwater Credit Union’s environmental impact is important?

Above all, it’s an important part of our commitment to transparency. Our members deserve to know. We also recognize that the first and most direct way we can become better environmental stewards is to analyze and address issues under our control. Carbon offsets have their place, but if, for example, we can simply use less energy and water during the average business day, we can make an immediate and tangible difference, lessening our environmental impact.

What outcomes do you anticipate —internally and externally?

The response of our co-workers and membership to values-based banking has been overwhelmingly positive, and this work is an extension of those values. With an initial focus on business operations, I expect we’ll be able to reduce our impact in significant and cost-effective ways. We want Montanans to know that by banking with us, or serving in any capacity for the credit union, you’re helping protect Montana’s environment and improve the way we do business. We also hope our work will educate and inspire others to follow our example.

How do we assess?

Reducing our environmental impact isn’t a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing effort to incorporate sustainability into our day-to-day operations. Measurement is a critical first step, but it’s not enough. For measurement to be effective, it needs to be followed by action.

What is the timeline for the project?

The first assessment was recently completed and published. The next step will be to determine and implement priorities for reductions. Then we’ll measure again, and the cycle will repeat. Assessments and associated action plans will be conducted annually, starting with low-hanging fruit and moving on from there.

How does this plan help achieve the mission of Clearwater Credit Union?

Our mission is to be a force for good in banking, in the communities we serve and in the lives of our members. Reducing our environmental footprint is good business, and we hope that our stewardship will educate and inspire our members, employees and fellow businesses and ensure that clean water, fresh air and healthy wild places continue to define what makes Montana a special place to live and work.

BIO: Paul Herendeen is an environmental scientist turned impact implementer. Prior to joining the credit union, he worked in the research offices of the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service. He holds degrees in science and engineering from the University of Virginia and Cornell University.