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Citi's New York 'smart branch' also one of its greenest

Citi's New York 'smart branch' also one of its greenest

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The 200-year-old bank's Union Square location boasts longer hours than any other bank branch in the United States.

Citi's latest "smart bank" branch at New York's Union Square has snagged the financial services giant's 200th LEED green building certification.

Citi executives figure the bank will have reached 263 certifications by the end of 2012, said Don Callahan, Citi's chief administrative officer, who was on hand this week for a tour of the facility. The company has committed to LEED-certifying 15 percent of its global real estate footprint by 2015.

The 9,700-square-foot Union Square branch (at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway) was architected by the same firm that has masterminded the Apple retail stores and boasts the highest level of rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, Platinum. It's got the usual credentials that go along with that: it uses 44 percent less water and 27 percent less energy, due to special plumbing fixtures, daylight harvesting and occupancy sensors discretely placed throughout the office space.

The other advanced technologies that are an integral part of its LEED Platinum blueprint are ones that enable this branch to be open more hours than any other bank branch in the United States -- in synch with the city that never sleeps.

Those technologies are rewriting the concept of concept of "bankers' hours."

One example is the 24x7 video-enabled customer service kiosk that sits right inside its main door. The system is available for customers that want to actually see the person's that's helping with an issue or question.

Citi's Union Square branch manager Billy Cho demonstrates the bank's video-enabled customer service kiosk, which is available around the clock.

The branch was also designed to be largely paperless, aided by interactive digital signage sprinkled throughout the lobby. The 12-screen video wall below can be used to broadcast messages from both the bank itself, as well as local businesses or Citi partners that might need a little bit of visibility within the local community.

Meanwhile, a single-screen informational display (ala the one pictured below) can help customers seek answers to questions or information about services represented by the bank (and, by extension, the branch). There are six interactive sales walls at the Union Square branch.

Citi, which marked its 200th birthday on June 16, 2012, also offers online banking terminals and free Wi-Fi for customers while they are in the branch. That Wi-Fi is gated, for security reasons, but it offers another way for Citi to market its products and services to a captive audience.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure