Evan’s Story: Committing to Sustainable Banking

Evan in nature, looking from a viewpoint.

A headshot of a man.Evan Wacker joined Sunrise Banks in January as an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Data Analyst. He is passionate about building a more sustainable future with other advocates to promote socially responsible and sustainable banking.

Q: Why do you have a passion for sustainability and finance?

A: For me, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword – it has been a driving force in my life and career. Since I was young, I’ve been an avid outdoorsman and have had a great passion for our environment and conservation. As I’ve aged, that passion has translated into many of the choices I’ve made for my education and career.

I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Sustainable Systems Management and a minor in Applied Economics. That sparked my interest in leveraging the power of finance for positive change. I’ve worked on award winning sustainability teams at Allina Health and HealthPartners. Those companies have made significant strides in greening the healthcare industry. However, that interest in sustainable finance never really left me. I finally got the itch to dive into it here at Sunrise Banks. I truly feel like coming home to a community which shares my values and aspirations.

There are many great things going on at Sunrise Banks, which will truly push us onto the cutting edge of solutions for sustainability issues in the finance industry. I am eager to support these in my role.

Q: What is one ESG initiative you’re excited about?

A man standing outside near a large rock on the edge of a forest.A: I’m extremely excited about the launch of our Net Zero Deposit Fund (NZDF). This innovative product represents a very bold step forward in sustainable banking practices. The NZDF channels deposited funds into projects which are actively reducing or avoiding emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

I’ll work strategically with members of our teams to create a robust reporting system and project assessment framework. This will allow our clients to clearly understand exactly how their money is working for good. By investing in renewable energy, green buildings, electric vehicles and resource efficiency infrastructure, we’ll not only attract business to the bank, but also enable a tangible impact on the health of our planet.

Q: How will you use your role and knowledge to make sure Sunrise Banks follows through on its ESG promises?

A: Transparency and accountability are paramount to avoid greenwashing as we strive to address climate change at Sunrise Banks. I’ll expand upon our work with the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) methodology to properly assess the impact of our business on climate change both from our business dealings and our physical locations. By improving the strength of our ESG and sustainability data, we’re adhering to our commitments through the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) and laying a strong foundation for progress and a shift towards responsible banking practices.

Numbers don’t lie, and I’m committed to ensuring that ours show a story of positive change. By utilizing data-driven insights from the PCAF and other upcoming projects, we’ll identify opportunities to integrate sustainability into many facets of our operations. Whether it’s little things like reducing our paper usage or waste output, or large ones like environmentally optimizing our loan portfolio, data will be our guiding light to achieving true impact.

Q: Why is it important for Sunrise Banks – and other companies – to strive for net zero emissions?

A: Achieving net zero emissions isn’t just some lofty goal–it’s a roadmap to our future as we strive to be the world’s most socially responsible bank. Part of my role is to guide us along this path, using both data and experience. My team and I will assess our emissions portfolio to identify opportunities, set interim targets and chart our path to net zero. Together, we’ll work toward carbon neutrality by aligning our efforts with global targets, utilizing the best available scientific literature, and implementing industry best practices.

Q: How can our customers and communities join us on this journey?

A man hiking outside around large rocks and boulders.A: At Sunrise Banks, we truly believe that banking can be a tremendous force of good in the world. With customer support and collaboration, we’re committed to building a sustainable future for generations to come. We can all make a difference – one deposit, one project, and one step at a time.

I invite customers and employees to join us in redefining what it means to be a climate conscious bank. Together, we have the power to do this. Feel free to reach out to me with questions and ideas or to chat about ESG and sustainability. And stay tuned for updates on our progress as we continue to fight the good fight!