“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” So goes that wonderful quote attributed to the stenorian late Senator Everett Dirksen.
Well, we thought it was real money when Goldman Sachs committed a billion dollars to renewable energy (see Sustainability – At the Tipping Point?) or when Wells Fargo did the same in banking and real estate. It turns out that was chump change, now that Bank of America has launched a $20 billion environmental initiative.

Taking what’s been called a leadership position among financial service firms in the corporate green movement, the Charlotte, N.C.-based financial giant set aside all but $2 billion of its commitment for lending, advice and market creation to help commercial clients finance the use and production of new products, services and technologies.
The bank also will launch the capability to trade carbon emissions credits, a move designed “to enable clients to achieve carbon emission neutrality through existing and emerging market mechanisms.”

As part of that $2 billion,

Bank of America will commit $1.4 billion to achieve LEED certification — short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — in all new construction facilities and banking centers.

Why are they doing this? Same reason everyone else is jumping on the green bandwagon: it makes business sense.

Craig Cuddeback, chief operating officer of the Cleantech Venture Network, said Bank of America’s effort marks the largest he’s seen from a major lending institution. “It’s a relatively safe investment – they wouldn’t do it otherwise,” Cuddeback said.

It looks like we’re talking about real money now, folks. Game on!