Using solar roof panels and motorized solar arrays, the building generates at least as much energy as it consumes
By Jim Flint for Ashland.news
A year after breaking ground near Lithia Springs Resort, Evergreen Federal Bank on Aug. 22 opened the doors of its new Ashland branch at 1001 W. Jackson Road, near where Highway 99 meets South Valley View Road.
The newest of six Evergreen branches, the Ashland facility is Evergreen’s first net-zero building. That is, the facility generates energy on-site in a quantity equal to or greater than the total energy consumed on-site.
The net-zero goal was achieved with a combination of solar roof panels installed by True South Solar of Ashland and large, free-standing, motorized solar arrays that track the sun, installed by Stracker, also an Ashland company.
“When we looked at what is important in Ashland,” said Branch Manager Marsha Billeci, “we recognized that fire resiliency and the use of renewable energy are priorities.”
Evergreen says the branch is the first of its kind in Southern Oregon.
“By harnessing the sun’s power, we have been able to produce more energy than we consume,” Billeci said.
In addition to tapping solar energy for its own uses, Evergreen wants to help others who have the same goal, said bank President Jeff Hyde.
“When we considered how we could make a positive difference,” he said, “we took note of what is important in that community.”
To that end, Evergreen is one of the few banks that offers solar financing.
“This product was created to help address needs specific to Southern Oregon,” Billeci said.
Billeci resides In the Wagner Creek area near Talent. She joined Evergreen in March, bringing 28 years of banking experience to the firm, 26 of those in Southern Oregon.
The new Ashland branch has a staff of five full-time employees, offering checking, savings and lending services.
Evergreen is one of the few banks that services its loans in-house.
“That means when you have questions about your loan, you contact us directly,” Billeci said. “Our customers enjoy being able to walk into one of our branches and receive assistance quickly. They like knowing they will never go through the hassle of another bank buying their loan.”
Evergreen is a “mutual” bank, owned by its depositors. There are no stockholders. Unlike credit unions, mutual institutions are for-profit and pay state and federal taxes.
Mutual banks have been around since the early 1800s. They originally were organized to provide the working class with easier access to banking services in a time when most commercial banks served primarily businesses.
Mutual institutions also are chartered to benefit their local communities. As such, in addition to serving local consumers and businesses with deposits, loans and other financial instruments, they also tend to invest in their communities.
The Ashland branch is offering a grand opening special through Oct. 13 for customers who open an Ashland Grand Checking Account. The bank pledges to donate $100 to the Ashland Schools Foundation or the Phoenix-Talent School District No. 4 for each such new account.
“We also have partnered with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce to sponsor upcoming events,” Billeci said.
Evergreen was founded in 1934 in Grants Pass. Today it has two branches in that city, as well as branches in Rogue River, Medford, Brookings — and now Ashland.
The Ashland branch lobby is open 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drive-up hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays.
Billeci said Evergreen had been receiving an increasing number of requests for a branch in the Ashland area.
“We believe our unique products and community involvement can make a positive difference for families and businesses in the area,” she said.
Reach writer Jim Flint at email@example.com.