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How to unlock the green potential of investment?

16 of March '23

How to convince developers to introduce greenery? Today it's not just bon mots and slogans, but data and tangible benefits, which we call green potential. How to use it?

"bye-bye" has already been

As part of our #ReportThursday series, we present documents, reports and guides on architecture, cities and local government that are certainly worth publicizing and promoting. This week we look at the brochure "Green Investment Potential. Nature-Friendly Facilities" compiled by Aleksandra Szurlej-Kielanska and Lucyna Pilacka. The publication was published under the auspices of PLGBC - the Polish Green Building Association.

Battles with investors, whether public or private investments, mostly go the same way - they are agonizing. Just a few years ago, encouragement not to cut everything to the ground and leave a green strip of grass half a centimeter high ended up eliminating biodiversity and, as a result, uninteresting developments. Today, with the unraveling of the real estate crisis, the crash of the notion of concreteness and slow changes for public education - green investments can become an asset, and there are data for this!

The brochure "Green Investment Potential" is available on the PLGBC website.

Okładka broszury

brochure cover

© PLGBC

lean on the benefits

"Green Investment Potential" begins by pointing out the role of biodiversity, as well as the potential benefits that come from preserving and taking care of adequate greenery in cities and around homes. As the authors point out, citing research, attractive tall greenery can increase property values by up to 15%. Well-maintained trees in front of the property also have a positive economic effect - often allowing the property to be sold more quickly.

Initial costs are the first milestone - and then there are the operating costs. The cost of maintaining a flower meadow is several times lower than maintaining a lawn - by reducing watering, mowing, lawn care. The same is true of the rain gardens cited in the brochure. As the authors of the document point out, well-organized greenery makes it possible to reduce noise nuisance by as much as 0.5 to 5-10 decibels - all the benefits are listed in the report, and there are many more.

The "Green Potential of Investment" brochure is available on the PLGBC website.

przykłady drzew i roślin rodzimych

examples of trees and native plants

© PLGBC

by the thread to the ball

In addition to the brochure's added value of summarizing the positive aspects of greenery, there is another important aspect of the issue - the description and identification of all measures to protect nature and biodiversity in the investment process. The authors summarize what to do and in what order at the beginning of the investment process, at the time of development or after, at the time of operation.

Architects, developers, activists and urban planners will find information on how to protect trees, vegetation, as well as properly protect local fauna. There is no shortage of information on native and invasive species, the introduction of solutions seeking to increase biodiversity, or the issue of the pros and cons of multi-criteria certifications such as BREEAM, LEED and Green House.

zieleń parkowa przy dworze w Czernichowie

Park greenery at the Czernichów manor house

Photo: JanuszK57 © Wikimedia Commons BY SA 3.0

added value

The brochure "Green Investment Potential" is aimed primarily at people who feel a hunger for knowledge in this area. It will also serve as a good introduction - developers, urban activists, architects and urban planners will find here both basic information and literature references that can come in handy on a daily basis. A proper introduction to the subject and a structuring of knowledge may prove to be a factor in the value of this publication.

przykład płotka ochronnego dla płazów

example of a protective fence for amphibians

Photo: Aleksandra Szurlej-Kielańska © PLGBC

Specially for A&B, one of the authors, Aleksandra Szurlej-Kielanska, answers questions about the publication

Wiktor Bochenek: Since the publication of the document, do you see differences in the behavior of the market and developers?

Aleksandra Szurlej-Kielańska: Some differences are observed, but they concern only selected aspects related to the protection of biodiversity in the course of ongoing investments, and of course, as in many cases, they do not apply to the entire environment associated with the construction industry. We had this in mind when creating the guide, which is why we chose developers as the main audience. We hoped that the information contained therein would help in the proper planning of investments and highlight certain key aspects that should be planned for, but also take into account the costs associated with them at the earliest possible stage.

Biodiversity has become an important buzzword in recent years, and many individuals and entities are increasingly paying attention to it. Unfortunately, still to an insufficient extent and, as we also observe, often misinterpreting the basic principles related to its effective protection. We see a very big positive change in the approach of many developers (especially those involved in large-scale facilities) to lawns, which are giving way to flower meadows. In many places, and very pleasingly in public spaces and next to residential buildings, rain gardens have become popular. However, there are still few builders who attach importance to arranging design greenery using native species, which can and should support local fauna and provide natural, smooth transitions between existing habitats.

The problem is also that many developments have succumbed to fashion instead of basing their design on proper identification of local biodiversity needs and definition of threats. So as a result, we have many examples of mass installation of pollinator hives on the roofs of office buildings, which is not at all an answer to the problem of pollinator extinction, because in this way we are supporting the wrong species that realistically needs support. The situation is similar, for example, with the installation of birdhouses where, in many cases, the selection of appropriate birdhouses, their number or method of installation not only do not meet real needs, but above all do not meet the basic requirements arising from the biology of individual species. There are not isolated cases where related issues were undertaken without consulting the relevant experts, but in the public consciousness the information remains that the boxes were hung, so the investment in question supports biodiversity. Thus, for some solutions, the belief persists that they can be implemented completely on their own, without consulting specialists or conducting even preliminary studies.

And this issue, frankly, raises my concerns about the growing importance of ESG and the need to report on nature-related issues as well. I would like to see these issues have a chance to be addressed by specialists.

However, I sincerely hope that it is a matter of time for managers and sustainability professionals to see this. In the meantime, a big nod to developers and designers for introducing appropriate meadows and rain gardens on a wider scale using the knowledge and experience of specialists.

Przykład zabezpieczenia drzew

example of tree protection

© PLGBC

Wiktor: Who is this publication aimed at and who can benefit from it?

Alexandra: The publication is mainly aimed at developers, investment planners and sustainability and environmental specialists. However, anyone can benefit from it, even as an individual investor in his own property, because it is a set of key principles to protect and restore biodiversity, especially in cities and especially today, in times of limited access to nature and the diseases of civilization associated with it.

Victor: Thank you for the interview.

The "Green Investment Potential" brochure is available on the PLGBC website.

Wiktor Bochenek

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