A hum-drum business - Much of the green roofing industry has noted an increasing demand for biodiverse roofs. Is this a symptom of eco-bling, some kind of clever marketing to associate boring businesses in ugly buildings with bees and butterflies and flowers? Or is legislation forcing people to take biodiversity seriously? Well yes, sometimes both of these are true but delve a little deeper and you will find a lively and creative new colony of eco-accountants (ecountants?) who are taking the matter to the heart of business.
A hive of creativity - Some of the current buzz-words like natural capital and ecosystem services reflect the adoption of research initiatives like TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) by the public sector and their integration into corporate CSR. By definition true sustainability measures should provide long term advantages and returns for business, the tricky thing is to quantify these so that they can carry economical weight against short term schemes. This is what TEEB is doing, so that these benefits can appear on company performance statements and really contribute to their value on their ‘triple bottom line’ (3BL; People, Planet, Profit).
A fool and his honey are easily parted - Many wiser and more forward-thinking companies have already assessed the impact of dwindling biodiversity on their own industries and supply chains. When Adnam’s greened their brewery roof there was a clear link between aiding biodiversity and protecting supply of raw materials, but many more indirect advantages in education, health and the community are there to be had as well. It is the well-considered investments in thriving, living roofs that will gain the marketers their brownie points in the long term, and show up hastily hoisted sedum mat jobs for the lightweight greenwash or planning app box-ticking that tends to rile the conscientious consumer.
In for a Penstemon, in for a pound - For these ideas to take off the link between an organisation’s wellbeing and that of its environment should be clear, strong and lasting. Engaging employees with the project is a commonly overlooked step which misses so many opportunities for promotion of an organisation’s efforts, and neglects to inform stakeholders of the genuine benefits they are receiving. I am always amazed by how many inhabitants of green roofed buildings are completely unaware of their existence. Get your people engaged with your planet-protection activities to maximise the financial profit: 3BL for fans of bees and common sense.