CORPORATE GOVERNANCE GUIDELINES
The Board of Directors (the “Board”) of Ameresco, Inc. (the “Company”) has adopted the
following Corporate Governance Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) to assist the Board in the
exercise of its duties and responsibilities and to serve the best interests of the Company and its
stockholders. The Guidelines should be applied in a manner consistent with all applicable laws
and stock exchange rules and the Company’s charter and bylaws, each as amended and in effect
from time to time. The Guidelines are intended to serve as a flexible framework for the conduct
of the Board’s business and not as a set of legally binding obligations. The Board may modify or
make exceptions to the Guidelines from time to time in its discretion and consistent with its
duties and responsibilities to the Company and its stockholders.
- Oversee Management of the Company. The principal responsibility of the
directors is to oversee the management of the Company and, in so doing, serve the
best interests of the Company and its stockholders. This responsibility includes:
Exercise Business Judgment. In discharging their fiduciary duties, directors are
expected to exercise their business judgment to act in what they reasonably
believe to be the best interests of the Company and its stockholders.
Understand the Company and its Business. Directors have an obligation to
become and remain informed about the Company and its business, including the
- Reviewing and approving fundamental operating, financial and other
corporate plans, strategies and objectives.
- Evaluating the performance of the Company and its senior executives and
taking appropriate action, including removal, when warranted.
- Evaluating the Company’s compensation programs on a regular basis and
determining the compensation of its senior executives.
- Reviewing and approving senior executive succession plans.
- Evaluating whether corporate resources are used only for appropriate business
- Establishing a corporate environment that promotes timely and effective
disclosure (including robust and appropriate controls, procedures and
incentives), fiscal accountability, high ethical standards and compliance with
all applicable laws and regulations.
- Reviewing the Company’s policies and practices with respect to risk
assessment and risk management.
- Reviewing and approving material transactions and commitments not entered
into in the ordinary course of business.
- Developing a corporate governance structure that allows and encourages the
Board to fulfill its responsibilities.
- Providing advice and assistance to the Company’s senior executives.
- Evaluating the overall effectiveness of the Board and its committees.
Establish Effective Systems. Directors are responsible for determining that
effective systems are in place for the periodic and timely reporting to the Board
on important matters concerning the Company, including the following:
- The principal operational and financial objectives, strategies and plans of the
- The results of operations and financial condition of the Company and of
significant subsidiaries and business segments.
- The relative standing of the business segments within the Company and as
compared to competitors.
- The factors that determine the Company’s success.
- The risks and problems that affect the Company’s business and prospects.
Board, Stockholder and Committee Meetings. Directors are responsible for
attending Board meetings, meetings of committees on which they serve and the
annual meeting of stockholders, and devoting the time needed, and meeting as
frequently as necessary, to discharge their responsibilities properly.
Reliance on Management and Advisors; Indemnification. The directors are
entitled to rely on the Company’s senior executives and its outside advisors,
auditors and legal counsel, except to the extent that any such person’s integrity,
honesty or competence is in doubt. The directors are also entitled to Companyprovided
indemnification, statutory exculpation and directors’ and officers’
Director Qualification Standards
- Current business and financial performance, the degree of achievement of
approved objectives and the need to address forward-planning issues.
- Future business prospects and forecasts, including actions, facilities, personnel
and financial resources required to achieve forecasted results.
- Financial statements, with appropriate segment or divisional breakdowns.
- Compliance programs to assure the Company’s compliance with law and
- Material litigation and governmental and regulatory matters.
- Monitoring and, where appropriate, responding to communications from
Directors should also periodically review the integrity of the Company’s internal
control and management information systems.
- Independence.Except as may otherwise be permitted by NYSE rules, a majority
of the members of the Board shall be independent directors. To be considered
independent: (1) a director must be independent as determined under Section
303A.02(b) of the NYSE Listed Company Manual and (2) in the Board’s
judgment, the director must not have a material relationship with the Company
(either directly or as a partner, shareholder or officer of an organization that has a
relationship with the Company).
The Board has established guidelines to assist it in determining whether a director
has a material relationship with the Company. Under these guidelines, a director
will not be considered to have a material relationship with the Company if (1) he
or she is independent as determined under Section 303A.02(b) of the NYSE
Listed Company Manual and (2) he or she:
- is an executive officer of another company which is indebted to the
Company, or to which the Company is indebted, unless the total
amount of either company’s indebtedness to the other is more than
1% of the total consolidated assets of the company he or she serves
as an executive officer; or
- serves as an officer, director or trustee of a tax exempt
organization, unless the Company’s discretionary contributions to
such organization are more than the greater of $1 million or 2% of
that organization’s consolidated gross revenues. (The Company’s
automatic matching of employee charitable contributions will not
be included in the amount of the Company’s contributions for this
In addition, ownership of a significant amount of the Company’s stock, by itself,
does not constitute a material relationship.
For relationships not covered by the guidelines set forth above, the determination
of whether a material relationship exists shall be made by the other members of
the Board of Directors who are independent as defined above.
- Size of the Board. The Board will periodically consider whether the size of the
Board is appropriate given the Company’s present circumstances and any changes
in the Company’s business.
- Other Directorships. A director shall limit the number of other public company
boards on which he or she serves so that he or she is able to devote adequate time
to his or her duties to the Company, including preparing for and attending
meetings. Directors should advise the Chairman of the Board and the Chairman
of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee in advance of accepting
an invitation to serve on another public company board. Service on boards and/or
committees of other organizations shall comply with the Company’s conflict of
- Tenure. The Board does not believe it should establish term limits. Term limits
could result in the loss of directors who have been able to develop, over a period
of time, increasing insight into the Company and its operations and an
institutional memory that benefit the entire membership of the Board as well as
management. As an alternative to term limits, the Nominating and Corporate
Governance Committee shall review each director’s continuation on the Board at
least once every three years. This will allow each director the opportunity to
conveniently confirm his or her desire to continue as a member of the Board and
allow the Company to conveniently replace directors who are no longer interested
- Board Leadership Structure. The Nominating and Corporate Governance
Committee shall periodically assess the Board’s leadership structure, including
whether the offices of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer should
be separate, whether the Company should have an independent “Lead Director” in
the event that the Chairman of the Board is not an independent director, and why
the Board’s leadership structure is appropriate given the specific characteristics or
circumstances of the Company. In the event that the Chairman of the Board is not
an independent director, the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee
may designate an independent director to serve as “Lead Director,” who shall be
approved by a majority of the independent directors.
The Lead Director, if one is appointed, shall:
Selection of New Director Candidates. Except where the Company is legally
required by contract, bylaw or otherwise to provide third parties with the ability to
nominate directors, the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall
be responsible for (i) identifying individuals qualified to become Board members,
consistent with criteria approved by the Board, and (ii) recommending to the
Board the persons to be nominated for election as directors at any meeting of
stockholders and the persons to be elected by the Board to fill any vacancies on
the Board. Director nominees shall be considered for recommendation by the
Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee in accordance with these
Guidelines, the policies and principles in its charter and the criteria set forth in
Attachment A to these Guidelines. It is expected that the Nominating and
Corporate Governance Committee will have direct input from the Chairman of the
Board, the Chief Executive Officer and, if one is appointed, the Lead Director.
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall consider candidates
proposed by stockholders.
Extending the Invitation to a New Director Candidate to Join the Board. The
invitation to join the Board should be extended either by the Chairman of the
Board, on behalf of the Board, or the Chairman of the Nominating and Corporate
Governance Committee, on behalf of such Committee. Unauthorized approaches
to prospective directors can be premature, embarrassing and harmful.
Change of Responsibility of Director. Any director who retires from his or her
principal current employment, or who materially changes his or her current
position, should offer to tender his or her resignation to the Board. The
Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall then recommend to the
Board whether the Board should accept the offer to resign in light of his or her
Former Chief Executive Officer’s Board Membership. The Board believes that
the continuation of a former Chief Executive Officer of the Company on the
Board is a matter to be decided in each individual instance by the Board, upon
recommendation of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.
Accordingly, when the Chief Executive Officer ceases to serve in that position, he
or she will be expected to resign from the Board if so requested by the Board,
upon recommendation of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.
- Chair any meeting of the non-management or independent directors in
- Meet with any director who is not adequately performing his or her duties as a
member of the Board or any committee;
- Facilitate communications between other members of the Board and the
Chairman of the Board and/or the Chief Executive Officer; however, each
director is free to communicate directly with the Chairman of the Board and
with the Chief Executive Officer;
- Monitor, with the assistance of our Company’s General Counsel,
communications from stockholders and other interested parties and provide
copies or summaries to the other directors as he or she considers appropriate;
- Work with the Chairman of the Board in the preparation of the agenda for
each Board meeting and in determining the need for special meetings of the
- Otherwise consult with the Chairman of the Board and/or the Chief Executive
Officer on matters relating to corporate governance and Board performance.
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- Selection of Agenda Items. The Chairman of the Board shall approve the agenda
for each Board meeting. Each Board member is free to suggest the inclusion of
agenda items and is free to raise at any Board meeting subjects that are not on the
agenda for that meeting.
- Frequency and Length of Meetings. The Chairman of the Board, in consultation
with the members of the Board, shall determine the frequency and length of the
Board meetings. Special meetings may be called from time to time as determined
by the needs of the business.
- Advance Distribution of Materials. Information and data that are important to the
Board’s understanding of the business to be conducted at a Board or committee
meeting should generally be distributed in writing to the directors before the
meeting, and directors should review these materials in advance of the meeting.
The Board acknowledges that certain items to be discussed at a Board or
committee meeting may be of an extremely confidential or time-sensitive nature
and that the distribution of materials on these matters prior to meetings may not
be appropriate or practicable. Presentations made at Board meetings should do
more than summarize previously distributed Board meeting materials.
- Executive Sessions. In general, the agenda for every regularly scheduled Board
meeting shall include a meeting of the “non-management” directors, as defined by
the rules of the NYSE, in executive session. In any event, the non-management
directors shall meet in executive session at least semi-annually to discuss, among
other matters, the performance of the Chief Executive Officer. The nonmanagement
directors will meet in executive session at other times at the request
of any non-management director. Absent unusual circumstances, these sessions
shall be held in conjunction with regular Board meetings. The director who
presides at these meetings shall be the Lead Director if there is one, and if not,
shall be chosen by the non-management directors, and his or her name shall be
disclosed in the annual meeting proxy statement.
- Attendance of Non-Directors at Board Meetings. The Board encourages the
senior executives of the Company to, from time to time, bring Company
personnel into Board meetings who (i) can provide additional insight into the
items being discussed because of personal involvement in these areas or (ii)
should be given exposure to the Board.
Director Access to Management and Independent Advisors
- Key Committees. The Board shall have at all times an Audit Committee, a
Compensation Committee and a Nominating and Corporate Governance
Committee. Each such committee shall have a charter that has been approved by
the Board. The Board may, from time to time, establish or maintain additional
committees as necessary or appropriate.
- Assignment and Rotation of Committee Members. The Nominating and
Corporate Governance Committee shall be responsible for recommending to the
Board the directors to be appointed to each committee of the Board. Except as
otherwise permitted by the applicable rules of the SEC and the NYSE, each
member of the Audit Committee, the Compensation Committee and the
Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall be an “independent
director” as defined by such rules.
- Committee Charters. In accordance with the applicable rules of the NYSE, the
charters of the Audit Committee, the Compensation Committee and the
Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall set forth the purposes,
goals and responsibilities of the committees as well as qualifications for
committee membership, procedures for committee member appointment and
removal, committee structure and operations and committee reporting to the
Board. The Board shall, from time to time as it deems appropriate, review and
reassess the adequacy of each charter and make appropriate changes.
- Selection of Agenda Items. The chairman of each committee, in consultation with
the committee members, shall develop the committee’s agenda. At the beginning
of the year each committee shall establish a schedule of subjects to be discussed
during the year (to the extent practicable). The schedule for each committee
meeting shall be furnished to all directors.
- Frequency and Length of Committee Meetings. The chairman of each committee,
in consultation with the committee members, shall determine the frequency and
length of the committee meetings consistent with any requirements set forth in the
committee’s charter. Special meetings may be called from time to time as
determined by the needs of the business and the responsibilities of the
- Access to Officers and Employees. Directors have full and free access to officers
and employees of the Company. Any meetings or contacts that a director wishes
to initiate may be arranged through the Chief Executive Officer or the Secretary
or directly by the director. The directors shall use their judgment to ensure that
any such contact is not disruptive to the business operations of the Company and
shall, to the extent appropriate, copy the Chief Executive Officer on any written
communications between a director and an officer or employee of the Company.
- Access to Independent Advisors. The Board and each committee have the power
to hire and consult with independent legal, financial or other advisors for the
benefit of the Board or such committee, as they may deem necessary, without
consulting or obtaining the approval of any officer of the Company in advance.
In the discretion of the Board or applicable committee, such independent advisors
may (but need not) be the regular advisors to the Company. The Board or any
such committee is empowered, without further action by the Company, to cause
the Company to pay the compensation of such advisors as established by the
Board or any such committee.
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Director Orientation and Continuing Education
- Role of Board and Compensation Committee. The form and amount of director
compensation shall be determined by the Board in accordance with the policies
and principles set forth below. The Compensation Committee shall conduct an
annual review of the compensation of the Company's directors. The
Compensation Committee shall consider that questions as to directors’
independence may be raised if director compensation and perquisites exceed
customary levels, if the Company makes substantial charitable contributions to
organizations with which a director is affiliated or if the Company enters into
consulting contracts or business arrangements with (or provides other indirect
forms of compensation to) a director or an organization with which the director is
- Form of Compensation. The Board believes that directors should be incentivized
to focus on long-term stockholder value. Including equity as part of director
compensation helps align the interest of directors with those of the Company’s
- Amount of Consideration. The Company seeks to attract exceptional talent to its
Board. Therefore, the Company’s policy is to compensate directors competitively
relative to comparable companies. The Company’s management shall, from time
to time, present a comparison report to the Board, comparing the Company’s
director compensation with that of comparable companies. The Board believes
that it is appropriate for the Chairman of the Board and the chairmen and
members of the committees to receive additional compensation for their services
in those positions.
- Director Stock Ownership. The Board believes that each director should acquire
and hold shares of Company common stock in an amount that is meaningful and
appropriate to such director. The target for stock ownership by each director will
be established by the Board. This ownership target may be revised by the Board
from time to time as it deems appropriate.
- Employee Directors. Directors who are also employees of the Company shall
receive no additional compensation for Board or committee service.
Management Evaluation and Succession
- Director Orientation. The Board and the Company’s management shall conduct a
mandatory orientation program for new directors. The orientation program shall
include presentations by management to familiarize new directors with the
Company’s strategic plans, its significant financial, accounting and risk
management issues, its compliance programs, its code of business conduct and
ethics, its principal officers, its internal and independent auditors and its General
Counsel and/or outside legal advisors. In addition, the orientation program shall
include a review of the Company’s expectations of its directors in terms of time
and effort, a review of the directors’ fiduciary duties and visits to Company
headquarters and, to the extent practical, certain of the Company’s significant
facilities. All other directors are also invited to attend the orientation program.
- Continuing Education. Each director is expected to be involved in continuing
director education on an ongoing basis to enable him or her to better perform his
or her duties and to recognize and deal appropriately with issues that arise. The
Company shall pay all reasonable expenses related to continuing director
Annual Performance Evaluation of the Board
- Selection of Chief Executive Officer. The Board selects the Company’s Chief
Executive Officer in the manner that it determines to be in the best interests of the
- Evaluation of Senior Executives. The Compensation Committee shall be
responsible for overseeing the evaluation of the Company’s senior executives. In
conjunction with the Audit Committee, in the case of the evaluation of the senior
financial executives, the Compensation Committee shall determine the nature and
frequency of the evaluation and the persons subject to the evaluation, supervise
the conduct of the evaluation and prepare assessments of the performance of the
Company’s senior executives, to be discussed with the Board periodically. The
Board shall review the assessments to ensure that the senior executives are
providing the best leadership for the Company over both the long- and short-term.
- Succession of Senior Executives. The Nominating and Corporate Governance
Committee shall be responsible for overseeing an annual evaluation of succession
planning for senior executives.
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall oversee an annual selfevaluation
of the Board to determine whether it and its committees are functioning
effectively. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall determine the
nature of the evaluation, supervise the conduct of the evaluation and prepare an
assessment of the Board’s performance, to be discussed with the Board. The purpose of
this process is to improve the effectiveness of the Board and its committees and not to
target individual Board members.
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Board Interaction with Stockholders, Institutional Investors, the Press, Customers,
The Board believes that the Chief Executive Officer and his or her designees speak for
the Company. Individual Board members may, from time to time, meet or otherwise
communicate with various constituencies that are involved with the Company. It is,
however, expected that Board members would do so with the knowledge of and, absent
unusual circumstances or as contemplated by the committee charters, only at the request
of the Company’s senior executives.
The Board will give appropriate attention to written communications that are submitted
by stockholders and other interested parties, and will respond if and as appropriate.
Absent unusual circumstances or as contemplated by the committee charters, the
Chairman of the Board (if an independent director), or the Lead Director (if one is
appointed), or otherwise the Chairman of the Nominating and Corporate Governance
Committee shall, subject to advice and assistance from the General Counsel, (1) be
primarily responsible for monitoring communications from shareholders and other
interested parties, and (2) provide copies or summaries of such communications to the
other directors as he or she considers appropriate.
Periodic Review of the Corporate Governance Guidelines
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall, from time to time as it
deems appropriate, review and reassess the adequacy of these Guidelines and recommend
any proposed changes to the Board for approval.
Adopted by the Board of Directors on May 27, 2010
Attachment A to Corporate Governance Guidelines
CRITERIA FOR NOMINATION AS A DIRECTOR
- Nominees should have a reputation for integrity, honesty and adherence to high ethical
- Nominees should have demonstrated business acumen, experience and ability to exercise
sound judgments in matters that relate to the current and long-term objectives of the
Company and should be willing and able to contribute positively to the decision-making
process of the Company.
- Nominees should have a commitment to understand the Company and its industry and to
regularly attend and participate in meetings of the Board and its committees.
- Nominees should have the interest and ability to understand the sometimes conflicting
interests of the various constituencies of the Company, which include stockholders,
employees, customers, governmental units, creditors and the general public, and to act in
the interests of all stockholders.
- Nominees should not have, nor appear to have, a conflict of interest that would impair the
nominee’s ability to represent the interests of all the Company’s stockholders and to
fulfill the responsibilities of a director.
- Nominees shall not be discriminated against on the basis of race, religion, national origin,
sex, sexual orientation, disability or any other basis proscribed by law. The value of
diversity on the Board should be considered and the Board, taken as a whole, should
embody a diverse set of skills, experiences and backgrounds.
Application of Criteria to Existing Directors
The renomination of existing directors should not be viewed as automatic, but should be
based on continuing qualification under the criteria set forth above. In addition, the
Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall consider the existing directors’
performance on the Board and any committee, which shall include consideration of the
extent to which the directors undertook continuing director education.
Criteria for Composition of the Board
The backgrounds and qualifications of the directors considered as a group should provide
a significant breadth of experience, knowledge and abilities that shall assist the Board in
fulfilling its responsibilities.
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