PNC Green Branch® Banks: New Construction Prototype

After working with Paladino on the first LEED version 2.0 Silver building (PNC Firstside Center), PNC Bank expanded their environmental commitment to include LEED Silver baseline for all new branch banks. Paladino worked with the company and the architect, Gensler, to develop a LEED branch bank prototype design and volume build program, which was the first LEED prototype and portfolio rating program ever implemented. The program was a catalyst for unparalleled market transformation and climate change mitigation, serving as the impetus for wide-spread adoption of portfolio LEED rating programs.


Because no streamlined process existed for the certification of portfolios of same type buildings, Paladino worked closely with the USGBC, developing a standard volume certification process that would allow owners to pre-certify a LEED rated prototype design while submitting construction phase credits separately. This process would allow PNC, and any other volume builder, to reduce costs of certification by requiring unique submittals for construction phase credits only.

Sustainable design strategies included:

  • High performance building envelope and glazing system that maximizes exposures to daylight while significantly reducing thermal losses and solar heat gain
  • Automated lighting systems and high level of controllability such as motorized roll-down shades
  • High performance HVAC system, and use of low VOC interior materials to improve indoor air quality and energy efficient performance
  • Use of low flow and specialized plumbing fixtures and systems for water conservation
  • Volume purchasing through use of green standards to reduce costs


The result is a landmark program that set the standard for LEED volume certification programs and is now being piloted across LEED rating systems through the USGBC. Paladino used two processes to guide the economical and efficient LEED rating of 60 PNC Green Branch® Banks in their portfolio. Based on a post occupancy performance study performed by Paladino at the end of 2007, the new green prototype outperformed the conventionally designed branch in areas of worker satisfaction, retention and comfort. Additionally economies of scale were realized through volume purchasing agreements with suppliers of casework, FSC certified wood and other building materials specified in the prototype.

In 2007, Paladino and Company conducted a post-occupancy performance study to assess the impact of the program on employee satisfaction, portfolio performance and predictability, and found that Green Branch banks outperformed conventionally designed branches in areas of worker satisfaction and comfort and employee retention. Compared to PNC’s old prototype:

  • General workplace satisfaction jumped from 64% to 93%
  • General building satisfaction leapt from 43% to 98%
  • A mean energy savings of 32% is achieved
  • 44% water savings is achieved

In 2012, a study performed by University of Notre Dame comparing performance of PNC’s LEED rated branches and non-rated branches shows that the company’s green buildings provide direct business benefits through higher consumer deposits and loans at the green branches. The study also showed that utility costs per employee in LEED branches are significantly lower than in the non-certified buildings, establishing that green buildings deliver both financial performance and cost reduction.