Berkshire Sustainable Financing Framework Second-Party Opinion (2022)
Sustainalytics is of the opinion that the Berkshire Sustainable Financing Framework is credible and impactful and aligns with the Sustainability Bond Guidelines 2021, Green Bond Principles 2021 and Social Bond Principles 2021. This assessment is based on the following:
USE OF PROCEEDS
The eligible categories for the use of proceeds –Renewable Electricity Generation, Green Buildings, Renewable Energy Technology, Storage and Manufacturing, Energy Efficiency, Affordable Housing, Workforce Housing, and Financial Inclusion and Access – are aligned with those recognized by the Green Bond Principles and Social Bond Principles. Sustainalytics considers that investments in the eligible categories are expected to contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy and help support the socio-economic development of the United States and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDGs 7, 8 and 11.
PROJECT EVALUATION / SELECTION
Berkshire Bank’s Environmental, Social, Governance Committee (ESGC) is responsible for evaluating and selecting eligible projects. The Bank has adopted an Enterprise Risk Management programme which is applicable to all allocation decisions made under the Framework. Sustainalytics considers these risk management systems to be adequate and the project selection process to be in line with market practice.
MANAGEMENT OF PROCEEDS
Berkshire Bank’s ESG Committee will be responsible for the allocation in an amount equal to the net proceeds by using the Berkshire Sustainable Bond Asset Tracking Report. Berkshire Bank intends to fully allocate an amount equal to the net proceeds within 24 months following the issuance date. Pending allocation, net proceeds will be temporarily invested in cash, cash equivalents, high-quality liquid assets or used to repay debt that has no association with carbon-intensive activities. This is in line with market practice.
Berkshire Bank intends to report on allocation of proceeds in a Sustainable Financing report on an annual basis until full allocation. Allocation reporting will include the amount of net proceeds allocated to eligible projects, a list of eligible projects by category, and the outstanding amount of unallocated net proceeds. In addition, Berkshire Bank is also committed to reporting on relevant impact metrics, where feasible. Sustainalytics views Berkshire Bank’s allocation and impact reporting as aligned with market practice.