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Green Initiatives

1920Royal Bank’s earliest recorded donation to an environmental/conservation concern was to the Canadian Forestry Association.
1944Royal Bank published its first Monthly Letter (now RBC Letter) on the subject of Conservation: “Conservation of Canada’s Forests.”
1958Royal Bank published its first Monthly Letter collection on “Conserving Canada’s Resources.”
1961Royal Bank was awarded the 1960 Conservation Award for Industry by the Federation of Ontario Naturalists for its consistent educational efforts on behalf of conservation of Canada’s resources.
1969First recorded donation by Royal Bank to the World Wildlife Fund (Canada).
1977Toronto’s Royal Bank Plaza, constructed between 1973 and 1977, was officially opened in March. Real gold was used in the windows, as a colouring agent, to provide insulation and help reduce heating bills. The principal sources of heat in the building were the occupants and the lights: steam was used as a backup only in the cold weather.
1978Royal Bank’s Real Estate Resources Department issued a new set of standards for energy efficient construction in new and renovated buildings. They followed this up in 1979 with a set of guidelines on how to save energy costs in the bank’s existing structures, such as turning down thermostats on weekends and after hours, turning off the lights after working hours and switching off office machines not in use.
1983Royal Bank’s Ontario Processing Centre moved to 325 Front Street West: a building that was specifically designed to house a data centre. One of the most appealing characteristics of the new building was its ability to reclaim heat: all of the heat produced by the equipment is carried away by ducts to heat the building with 100% heat reclamation.
1986Montreal’s Place Ville Marie (PVM) was renovated to help conserve energy and make life more comfortable for tenants. Heat pumps, which re-used heat from water in the system to heat another part of the building, were installed, at a cost of more than $1 million, and saving close to half of that each year. PVM was automated, making it an intelligent building. Computers were installed to control heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
1989Under a unique program called W.O.W., We-cycle Office Waste, a division of Weyerhauser Canada Ltd., 500 Royal Bank employees at the Vancouver Royal Centre adopted recycling boxes to dispose of up to 80 per cent of their waste paper, with plans to expand the system to branch staff.
Royal Bank introduced environmentally-friendly practices by printing several stationery items on recycled paper, the first major Canadian company to do so.
Royal Bank sponsored the Harmony Foundation of Canada book, “Home & Family Guide: Practical Action for the Environment.”
1990Royal Bank was the first chartered bank in Canada to adopt a comprehensive environment policy that addresses all aspects of business, from internal operations to commercial lending.
1992Royal Bank became the first and only Canadian bank to formally endorse the United Nations Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) Statement by Banks on the Environment and Sustainable Development.
1996Royal Bank was named “Canada’s Most Respected Corporation” in social responsibility, in the Globe and Mail’s annual poll and retained this position until the poll was discontinued in 2011.
2000Royal Bank was the first Canadian bank to be named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
2002Royal Bank made a strong commitment to protecting Canada’s natural heritage by supporting the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) with a half a million dollar grant. The NCC’s key goal was to protect more than 50 of Canada’s most ecologically important sites.
2003Royal Bank was the first Canadian financial institution to adopt the Equator Principles, bringing the number of banks adopting the Principles to twelve, and the number of countries they represent to eight. The Equator Principles are a framework for financial institutions to manage environmental and social issues in project financing.
Royal Bank was the first major Canadian bank to give clients direct access to digital images of paper-based transactions, including personal and business cheques, business deposits and personal credit line transactions. Initially offered through branch and telephone enquiries, this service was extended to Online Banking clients in July 2004.
2005Seven Toronto area Royal Bank branches became bullfrogpowered. Bullfrog Power is Ontario’s first 100% green electricity retailer.
2007Royal Bank launched the RBC Environmental Blueprint recommitting to a path of environmental sustainability and articulating the bank’s corporate environmental policy, priorities, objectives and 44 commitments.
Royal Bank launched the Blue Water Project, a ten-year, $50 million donations program supporting not-for-profit organizations that protect watersheds and provide or ensure access to clean drinking water.
Royal Bank announced that the RBC Centre, in Toronto, will be the first major office tower in Canada built to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold NC standard, as defined by The Canadian Green Building Council.
2008Royal Bank committed to the goal of ensuring all paper purchases are certified as coming from sustainably managed forests, with the emphasis on purchasing paper certified to the Forest Stewardship Council standard.
2009Royal Bank opened its 100th green powered branch in Brantford, Ontario and established the Green IT Committee, to take action on technology related environmental issues; and was named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers in a competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.
2010Royal Bank was honoured with the GLOBE Foundation’s 8th annual 2010 GLOBE Corporate Award for Environmental Excellence for its outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship and corporate-wide approach to sustainability.
2011Royal Bank launched green@rbc, a publicly available e-newsletter focused on environmental issues.
2012Royal Bank launched the RBC Impact Fund, the first of its kind in Canada, intended to help finance projects by organizations and entrepreneurs tackling social and environmental challenges.