Greening the Corporate Park
Global warming is a hotly debated topic with varying opinions and numerous agendas. The general public perception is that industrialization has led to increased greenhouse gasses, in turn the ‘greenhouse effect’ and ultimately an increase in global temperatures.
It is believed that the simplest solution or at least the simplest way to try and prevent further damage is to reduce carbon emissions and to increase the amount of plant matter on the planet (plants use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis).
This has resulted in a trend by many companies to think ‘green’, or at the very least to be seen to be doing the right thing by taking steps to manage any negative effect that they may have on the environment.
Many companies, especially multi-nationals are seeing the benefits of being environmentally pro-active and trying to reduce their carbon footprints. This is something that creates a positive public perception of the company and its brands (and therefore stimulates their marketing efforts), and has a positive environmental impact on the planet, which benefits us all – it’s a win-win situation!
So how do corporate giants, which typically operate from massive concrete and glass office buildings and factories reduce their carbon footprints?
One way, is by using these buildings to create ‘green’ areas. Most of these office buildings are surrounded by gardens and some greenery, which add some welcome aesthetics to the hard, man-made structures and can also provide beautiful surroundings for visitors and staff.
More forward-thinking companies are using spaces that were not traditionally used for planting in order to create something truly special – something that:
• enhance the aesthetics of the buildings
• can assist in reducing contamination which stormwater has the potential to spread
• can reduce their carbon footprint
• can reduce the effect of ultraviolet rays from the sun, resulting in an increase of the life-span of waterproofing products that are used to seal roofs
• can reduce their energy costs by providing additional insulation and reducing air-conditioning requirements.
These non-traditional spaces are essentially the outer shells of the buildings – the roof and walls. Thousands of square meters of surface area that would otherwise be barren are now being used to create soft, natural, environmentally-friendly plant areas.
Although they are only now gaining mainstream popularity, green roofs have been used in Europe as far back as the early nineteen-hundreds. In recent years, they have become more and more popular and can now be found in cities throughout the world.
Living walls or ‘green’ walls are typically created using a modular system using plant trays that are hung vertically on the wall, similar to a picture frame.
These panels are planted, ideally with low-maintenance plants, which will grow to cover the trays and provide a beautiful display and numerous other benefits as discussed above.
Many architects are no longer simply adding small gardens and greenery around the buildings, but are incorporating green roofs and living walls on the structures, even making them focal areas of the building.
Regardless of which side of the global warming debate you find yourself, greening the corporate environment will at the very least provide a more enjoyable, beautiful work environment and this is a trend that is likely to be with us for many years to come.