Sustainable Facilities: Nurturing Biodiversity in Industrial Spaces

In an era where environmental consciousness is paramount, organizations across all industries are increasingly recognizing the significance of not only sustainable practices but sustainable facilities.

Industrial cleaning and facility management play pivotal roles in this transformation, as they are the key drivers behind maintaining the operational efficiency and environmental responsibility of factories and facilities. Going beyond simple sustainability practices, manufacturing and industrial facilities have the power to lead the charge in creating green spaces, supporting biodiversity, and embracing regenerative building concepts.

 The Need for Sustainable Facilities

Sustainability is not just a trend; it’s a necessity. Factories and facilities are major contributors to environmental degradation, from energy consumption and waste production to water usage and air pollution. Embracing sustainability isn’t just about meeting regulatory requirements; it’s about future-proofing operations and creating a positive impact on the planet.

According to the latest Global Risk Report, the loss of biodiversity is one of the world’s most significant threats. The Convention on Biological Diversity, initiated in 1992, gained renewed momentum in recent years with the “Global Biodiversity Framework,” a global agreement reached during the United Nations Biodiversity Conference. The shared objective, part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and sea areas by 2030, aiming to halt and even reverse the loss of biodiversity by the same year. This goes hand-in-hand with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which call for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems to halt biodiversity loss.

TEAM Group is aligned with this global goal, understanding the crucial role that local measures can play in supporting biodiversity.

As part of our Sustainability Report, TEAM has chosen to focus on 5 key Sustainable Development Goals:

1. Climate Action
2. Responsible Consumption and Production
3. Gender Equality
4. Decent Work and Economic Growth
5. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

The question now arises: How can industrial spaces and factory buildings coexist with efforts to promote biodiversity?

Contrary to initial perceptions, integrating biodiversity into industrial sites is not only feasible but also beneficial. On-site activities contribute to environmental sustainability and improve the overall quality of life for both humans and animals. Businesses can implement a range of actions, from planning designated protected areas to maintaining green spaces, installing beehives, and even providing winter sustenance for wild birds.

Green Spaces

One of the fundamental steps in creating sustainable facilities is the integration of green spaces within or surrounding factory premises. These spaces offer benefits that extend beyond mere aesthetics. Green spaces contribute to improved air quality, reduce the urban heat island effect, and enhance employee well-being. In addition to these advantages, factories with green spaces can actively support biodiversity. Planting native vegetation creates habitats for local fauna, fostering biodiversity in urban environments. This not only helps preserve the natural balance but also adds an element of ecological resilience to the factory ecosystem. Some green space ideas include:
  • Employee gardens or pocket parks that can be used by employees
  • Tree planting and landscaping for pollinators
  • Water features such as ponds
  • Green corridors or buffer zones

Biodiversity-Friendly Practices

Facility management companies can go a step further by implementing biodiversity-friendly practices. This includes responsible landscaping, avoiding the use of harmful pesticides, and creating wildlife-friendly habitats. Some examples include:
  • Install birdhouses, bat boxes or beehives
  • Plant flowers for pollinator species such as bees and butterflies
  • Use cruelty free products
  • Opt for humane pest control
  • Opt for more sustainable practices for landscaping, snow and ice removal, cleaning

Regenerative Buildings

To truly make a difference, factories and facilities can embrace the concept of regenerative buildings. Unlike traditional sustainability, which focuses on minimizing harm, regenerative practices aim to actively improve the environment. This involves designing buildings that contribute positively to their surroundings. Key elements of regenerative buildings include energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste reduction. Implementing renewable energy sources, rainwater harvesting systems, and waste recycling programs are crucial components of regenerative building practices. By generating more energy than they consume, capturing and reusing water, and minimizing waste, these buildings become integral contributors to environmental restoration.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Energy consumption is a significant concern for factories and facilities. Implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices can lead to substantial cost savings while reducing the carbon footprint. Incorporating renewable energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal systems can further enhance the sustainability of operations. Moreover, advancements in technology, such as smart building management systems, allow for real-time monitoring and optimization of energy usage. These systems can identify areas of inefficiency, enabling proactive measures to improve overall energy performance.

Water Conservation and Reuse

Water scarcity is a growing global concern, and factories often contribute to excessive water consumption. Adopting water-saving technologies, such as low-flow fixtures and efficient irrigation systems, is essential. Additionally, the implementation of water recycling and reuse systems can significantly reduce the overall water demand of a facility. Factories can also explore innovative water management strategies, such as using treated wastewater for non-potable purposes. This not only conserves freshwater resources but also minimizes the environmental impact of wastewater discharge.

Waste Reduction and Circular Economy

Traditional linear models of production, consumption, and disposal contribute to enormous waste streams. Embracing a circular economy approach involves minimizing waste generation and maximizing the reuse and recycling of materials. This not only reduces the environmental impact but also presents economic opportunities through the creation of secondary markets for recycled materials. Facility management companies can play a pivotal role in implementing waste reduction strategies, such as composting organic waste, promoting responsible packaging practices, and establishing partnerships with recycling facilities. By actively participating in the circular economy, factories can contribute to the long-term sustainability of resources.

 

The Perfect Balance: Green Industrial Zones

Green industrial zones, also known as eco-industrial parks or green business parks, are areas designated for industrial and economic activities that prioritize sustainability, environmental responsibility, and resource efficiency. These zones aim to create a balance between industrial development and ecological preservation, fostering an effective coexistence between economic growth and environmental well-being.
Some key features and principles of green industrial zones include:

1. Resource Efficiency: Green industrial zones focus on optimizing resource use, minimizing waste, and promoting circular economy principles. This involves recycling and reusing materials, reducing energy consumption, and minimizing water usage.

2. Renewable Energy: These zones often incorporate renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, or geothermal power to meet their energy needs. Integrating clean energy helps reduce carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

3. Biodiversity Conservation: Green industrial zones emphasize the preservation of local ecosystems and biodiversity. Efforts may include creating green spaces, planting native vegetation, and implementing wildlife-friendly practices to support and enhance the local flora and fauna.

4. Waste Management: Effective waste management systems are crucial in green industrial zones. This involves implementing strategies for waste reduction, recycling programs, and responsible disposal methods to minimize the environmental impact of industrial activities.

5. Smart Infrastructure: The use of smart technologies and sustainable infrastructure is common in green industrial zones. This includes energy-efficient buildings, intelligent water management systems, and advanced monitoring tools to optimize resource utilization.

6. Collaboration and Networking: Businesses within a green industrial zone often collaborate to share resources, exchange waste products as raw materials, and collectively work towards common sustainability goals. This collaborative approach helps create a more sustainable and interconnected industrial ecosystem.

7. Green Certification and Standards: Many green industrial zones seek certification from environmental standards and regulatory bodies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) are commonly pursued. TEAM is currently working towards receiving its ECOVADIS certification and ISO14001.

8. Community Engagement: Green industrial zones often engage with local communities to ensure social sustainability. This may involve providing job opportunities, supporting local education and training initiatives, and addressing any potential environmental or social concerns raised by the community.

By incorporating these principles, green industrial zones aim to demonstrate that economic development and environmental conservation can coexist. These zones serve as models for sustainable industrial practices, showcasing that it is possible to achieve growth without compromising the health of the planet.

Final Thoughts

Transforming factory and facility spaces into sustainable, green hubs such as green industrial zones requires a holistic approach that goes beyond mere compliance with environmental regulations. Industrial cleaning and facility management companies are at the forefront of this transformation, with the power to influence positive change.

By incorporating green spaces, supporting biodiversity, and embracing regenerative building practices, factories and other industrial spaces can not only reduce their environmental footprint but actively contribute to the restoration and preservation of the planet. The journey towards sustainability is a shared responsibility, and as stewards of industrial operations, these companies have a unique opportunity to lead the way in creating a greener, more resilient future.

TEAM Group views the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity as an integral part of its corporate mission. By aligning with global initiatives and implementing local measures, TEAM not only navigates global risks but also contributes actively to building a better future by supporting the transformation to sustainable facilities.