Financial Technology Can Propel Environmental Sustainability

This article was published in the Fall 2020 issue

by Jennifer Smith, Chief Information Officer, Zions Bancorporation

As one of Utah’s largest tech employers, Zions Bancorporation is helping drive innovations that will forever enhance the banking experience for consumers and businesses.  At the same time as we are developing new technologies, we are seeing welcome byproducts: positive impacts on the environment.

With more than $70 billion in assets, Zions Bancorporation has long been known within the financial services industry for its contributions to financial technologies, including such innovations as having banks serve as trusted third parties in public key infrastructure (“PKI”) encrypted digital certificate transactions.

Two decades ago, Zions Bancorporation was at the forefront of efforts to give electronic versions of checks the same legal validity as original paper checks. In the 1990s, Zions pioneered the development of remote deposit capture technology that allows paper checks to be deposited electronically by submitting to the depository bank a photographic image of the original check.

Remote deposit capture has had a profound effect on climate change by reducing emissions from air transport, mail and courier services across the country. The technology has eliminated the need for customers to visit a bank branch, typically via car, to deposit checks. It is estimated that visits to branches by smaller businesses using this technology have been reduced by 40%. As the technology has spread to consumers — enabling them to deposit checks via their smart phones— the environmental benefits continue as many millions of trips to the bank are saved.

So as Zions Bancorporation looked to build a new Technology Center, it made sense for us to continue our legacy focused on sustainability.

In August 2020, we broke ground on a new 400,000-square-foot technology campus in Midvale that will accommodate more than 2,000 employees. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Jordan River Parkway, the property will reclaim the former Sharon Steel Mill Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site. Anticipated to be completed in mid-2022, the campus will be the company’s primary technology and operations center, serving Zions’ seven affiliate brands in 11 western states. The building will achieve efficiencies for the company by eliminating 11 smaller facilities in the Salt Lake Valley, consolidating technology and operations under one “green” roof.

The project is anticipated to achieve a Platinum LEED-certification with sustainable building features that include the use of low VOC-emitting construction materials, triple pane exterior glass, and ultra-efficient heating and cooling systems. More than 75% of the building’s electricity will be produced from on-site renewable solar energy. The campus will feature electric vehicle charging stations and will offer proximity to the Historic Gardner Village light rail station.

Nestled along the Jordan River Parkway, the property will support a regional habitat system through ecologically focused design and landscaping, including biological soil conservation and considerations for migratory and waterfront bird habitation. It will provide Zions Bancorporation employees a highly flexible and engaging work environment with outdoor recreation opportunities, locker and shower facilities, shareable bikes, and a large modern café with healthy and diverse menu options. Designed by award-winning architectural firms WRNS Studios and Method Studios, the project will be built by Okland Construction and Layton Construction and managed by Gardner Company.

Our company’s investment in this project will support the ongoing growth, innovation and success of financial technology in the Intermountain West. Along the way, we’ll bolster sustainability to support our precious environment.

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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Fall 2020GhostMagazine-cover---Summer-2020-3
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