Group 2

Environmental Lending and Banking Services at Beneficial State Bank


9 September 2022

By Jae Easterbrooks, Vice President and Earth Services Team Leader, and Brian Wagner, Vice President, Risk Team Leader, and Earth Services Team Member

Banking services that support our planet have always been core to Beneficial State Bank’s mission. In 2019, we formed our Earth Services team to expand our commercial lending and banking services in the environmental sector.

Our team is passionate about finding financing solutions that help our commercial banking clients and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Beneficial State Bank plays an important role in providing loans to renewable energy projects, environmentally-focused nonprofits, and energy-efficient building construction (including net-zero buildings). 

Our Earth Services team operates in the three West Coast states (California, Oregon, and Washington). We have experience evaluating financing opportunities for commercial solar projects, alternative forms of renewable energy, and energy-efficient building construction. Additionally, we support many other organizations within the environmental sector, providing deposit accounts, loans, and other banking services to environmental nonprofits and businesses. 

Beneficial State Bank launched in 2007, and in those early days, our team provided financing for anaerobic digester and low-impact, environmentally-benign small hydro projects. These projects required unique underwriting and structure considerations, including the use of USDA guarantee programs. Throughout the life of these loans, we have worked closely with these projects to understand and navigate fluctuations in output, maintenance, and cash flow. 

As solar has become more common and in demand, we have expanded our focus to financing commercial solar projects throughout our footprint.

Our earliest solar loans financed the development of mid-scale projects on unused or low-value agricultural land, with additional loans for host sites at churches, schools, and nonprofits in Oregon and California. Recently we’ve also financed projects for commercial buildings and mobile home parks in California. 

Beginning in 2020, Beneficial State Bank purchased a series of consumer solar loan portfolios from other specialty lenders. These purchases allow the residential solar lenders to better manage their liquidity, which supports their ability to scale and expand residential solar financing in more communities. 

Outside of lending, we offer our environmentally focused clients deposit accounts and treasury services. These Earth Services “Changemakers” are committed to creating positive environmental change in three key areas: core products or services (waste prevention, natural resource protection, carbon sequestration, renewable energy, or advocacy); third-party certifications or commitments (B Corporation, Green America Green Business Certification, Fair Trade Certification, or Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Commitment); mission-specific environmental goals and commitments relevant to their business. 

Seattle staff planting trees

Beneficial State Bank is owned in part by Beneficial State Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that works to transform the banking system. We partner with the Foundation to offer clean vehicle financing to participants of the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program, which is run by Beneficial State Foundation and funded by the California Clean Air Resources Board. We offer fair financing for low-to-moderate income people to purchase or lease a new hybrid or electric vehicle. In addition, we have partnered with Aspiration and issue the Aspiration Zero credit card. The Aspiration Zero credit rewards program provides carbon mitigation by planting trees for customer purchases. Beneficial State Bank’s Climate Card allows customers to donate their points to nonprofits that work to combat climate change. 

We regularly evaluate our internal underwriting policies and guidelines to ensure we’re aligned with market trends and credit risk factors. Beneficial State Bank is committed to fair and transparent banking services that support people, the planet, and prosperity for all. Learn more about our work.

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