Climate First Bank’s Winter Park Branch Now Open

As construction on the branch’s sustainable upgrades continue, the bank hopes to inspire the Central Florida community to make planet-saving green investments

Eustis, Florida, UNITED STATES

ORLANDO, Fla., March 08, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Climate First Bank, an FDIC-insured commercial bank founded to preserve the climate, announces that its branch located at 1150 South Orlando Ave in Winter Park, Fla. is open for business. This is the mission-driven bank’s second branch and first Central Florida location and is helmed by Branch Manager Chary Gonzalez and Assistant Branch Manager Ingrid Soto. The Winter Park branch is undergoing a deep retrofit for optimum efficiency and is pursuing LEEDv4 Platinum certification for Interior Design & Construction. The $900,000 renovations to the 3,620 square-foot space will complete by September 2022. Renderings of the building can be viewed HERE.

To get the branch to net-zero energy, 27.1 kW of solar panels will wrap the south side of the building and cover the roof. Translucent solar panels are being placed in front of the windows allowing for maximum renewable energy production while also allowing natural light into the space. For the interior, easily recyclable aluminum is being used for the building’s casework. A stunning green wall will be covered with a vertical plant garden, not only bringing nature’s beauty indoors but also improving health and air quality for staff and customers.

Other upgrades include energy-saving LED lights, noise-dampening acoustics and improved MERV 13 air filtration. Current bathroom fixtures are being completely redone with low-flow toilets and urinals for an estimated 30% more efficient water use. Out front, two electric vehicle charging stations and bike racks are being installed. All of these holistic improvements and investments are aimed to help realize the bank’s goal of being carbon neutral and supporting carbon drawdown at its branches and with its customers’ actions.

“REAL Building Consultants is honored and excited to work with Climate First Bank on this important project,” said Taylor Ralph, Founder and President of REAL Building Consultants, a full-service sustainable real estate consulting firm that is consulting on the building’s sustainable design. Ralph is also an investor in the bank. “Climate First Bank could have started from scratch with an empty lot and a new build. Instead, the bank is taking the extra step to further eliminate their carbon footprint by adapting and updating an existing building.”

“At Climate First Bank our mission is carbon reduction through a portfolio of sustainable loans that democratize access to sustainable alternatives,” said Climate First Bank Founder and CEO Ken LaRoe. LaRoe formerly founded First GREEN Bank and is a lifelong Central Floridian. “With existing buildings comprising the largest segment of the built environment, a retrofitting revolution is necessary to reduce humanity’s environmental impacts. By investing in this structure, we are not only practicing what we preach, but are also leading by example.”  

“My biggest hope is that when people drive by or walk into our branch, they’ll see that shiny wall of solar panels and be inspired to take the plunge,” said Gonzalez. Gonzalez has more than 20 years of community banking experience in Central Florida and previously worked at Florida Choice Bank with LaRoe. She left Seacoast Bank to join Climate First Bank in December 2021. “Our scalable solutions and hands-on, exceptional customer service will prove to Central Floridians that doing business with us will help your wallet as well as the planet.”

Gonzalez works closely with Soto. Soto began her banking career in Puerto Rico in 2005 before moving to Central Florida in 2007. She worked with Regions Bank, Bank of America, First GREEN Bank and Seacoast Bank before onboarding with Climate First Bank in December 2021. Together, Gonzalez and Soto handle the operation, administration, training, lending and security of the Winter Park branch. Both Gonzalez and Soto will work closely with Executive Vice President and Senior Lender Jeff Cowherd.

Since opening its flagship location in St. Petersburg, Fla. in June 2021, Climate First Bank has reached $152 million in assets, $106 million in loans and $112 million in deposits. Aside from dedicated sustainable loan offerings, traditional banking products are also available – including the recently launched Regeneration Checking account. With this account, residents can do good for the planet with every dollar deposited with the bank. Further demonstrating its commitment to the planet, Climate First Bank joined the Fossil Free Banking Alliance, a fossil-free-certified group of banking institutions that do not finance fossil fuel companies or projects and have pledged to never do so in the future. 

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About Climate First Bank
Climate First Bank is a values-based community bank offering a complete, full-service portfolio of simple and easy-to-use traditional banking products. These products are powered by high technology to meet the expectations of today’s consumers. In addition to offering standard banking services, the company places a special emphasis on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and businesses committed to sustainability. Eco-conscious customers will find dedicated loan options for solar photovoltaic (PV), energy retrofits and infrastructure to help combat the climate crisis. Member FDIC.

Media Contact
Ericka Rivera
Uproar PR for Climate First Bank