Incorporating nature into infrastructure improves business resilience

Green infrastructure in the city

The uptake of green infrastructure (GI) installations by both public and private sector organizations has been gaining momentum across the globe. Though this investment has mainly been in developed countries, such as the United States, The Netherlands, Spain, Denmark and Australia, amongst others, benefits are transferable to developing countries.

Green infrastructure employs elements of natural systems (biomimicry) to perform beneficial social and economic functions in contrast to ‘grey’ infrastructure that is man-made. Examples of green infrastructure include creating oyster reefs for coastal protection, and reed beds that treat industrial waste water.

Typically green infrastructure generates numerous co-benefits, whereby grey infrastructure supports one or two discreet benefits. Therefore green infrastructure installations, for the private sector in particular, offer a very attractive strategy to build business resilience in relation to environmental risks and stressors, such as climate change and extreme weather.

In 2013, the Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with The Dow Chemical Company, Shell, Swiss Re, and Unilever, undertook a study that evaluated a number of business case studies for green infrastructure.

The study culminated in a white paper providing a set of recommendations advocating for green and hybrid (a mixture between green and grey) infrastructure solutions and to mainstream these to become an integral part of the standard toolkit for modern engineers to help businesses enhance economic protection of business assets and t0 reduce the environmental footprint.

The Nature Conservancy study shows how green infrastructure provides more cost effective opportunities to increase the resilience of industrial and business operations against disruptive events such as mechanical failure, power interruption, raw material price increases, and floods.

The evaluation concluded that hybrid approaches, utilizing a combination of green and grey infrastructure, may provide an optimum solution to a variety of shocks and improve the overall business resilience.

The case studies that were gathered to support this research encompass a wide variety of possible applications of green infrastructure. They range from planting trees to remediate contaminated soil (‘phyto-remediation’); to constructing wetlands to naturally treat industrial wastewater and regulate storm water; to mitigating air pollution through innovative forest management approaches; and installing green roofs and walls to make energy saving costs.

Could GI installation be suitable for your business?

In terms of meeting government regulations linked to say reducing greenhouse gas emissions or reducing industrial waste water contamination etc, it is clearly businesses mandatory responsibility to respond to such regulations as well as constantly keeping an eye on the changes and updates made to these regulations. Green infrastructure can certainly be considered as part of this response package.

Then there are those businesses that are not necessarily affected by government regulation but are keen to voluntarily adopt green infrastructure installations in order to improve their overall business resilience, to show their commitment to their clients/consumers towards adopting a greener trajectory, to reduce energy costs or quite simply to boost the morale of their staff in terms of working in a greener and healthier environment.

Altus Impact can assist your organization to:

  • meet regulatory standards whereby the installation of green infrastructure would be a cost effective investment;
  • keep your company in the loop to relevant regulation changes and updates and how these may affect your business and the responses needed;
  • reduce waste disposal costs;
  • demonstrate your businesses commitment towards moving to a greener trajectory and therefore motivate new clients and customers;
  • reduce current regulatory liabilities, such as carbon taxes and permits;
  • increase your businesses resilience to environmental risks and stressors.

Contact Altus Impact to understand more how a natural capital assessment could benefit your business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *