Small Steps Make a Big Biodiversity Impact on Industrial Park

26/05/2022

At Erdington Industrial Park near Birmingham, Federated Hermes  and JLL have proved the power of small-scale ecology upgrades on existing assets to enhance biodiversity and bring benefits to occupiers. Simple changes, including the introduction of bird boxes, bug hotels and a wildflower meadow, are giving a boost to local wildlife and creating a blooming environment for occupiers. The team is now exploring opportunities to expand initiatives across additional industrial assets.

ENHANCING LOCAL BIODIVERSITY

SUPPORTING OCCUPIER WELLBEING

CONNECTING WITH LOCAL PARTNERS

Situation

We are all dependent on the ecosystem services that nature provides, such as clean air and water, fertile soils, pollination and favourable climatic conditions. Yet, to date, the value of biodiversity has been largely unacknowledged by business, despite the systemic risks that ecosystem collapse poses to economies and society.

As a global leader in active, responsible investment, Federated Hermes published its biodiversity white paper ‘Our Commitment to Nature’ in February 2021. This highlights the value of biodiversity, makes the case for its protection and outlines Federated Hermes’ expectations for sectors with high biodiversity impacts, such as real estate and construction. Real estate services partner JLL’s flagship sustainability targets for the UK include tackling the climate and nature emergency.

To help tackle the biodiversity crisis, Federated Hermes and JLL wanted to test the power of small-scale investment, combined with property management changes, to create a net positive impact on biodiversity at existing industrial assets. They chose Erdington Industrial Park for their pilot – a well-established industrial estate, with mature trees and a large grass area, situated next to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. 

Actions

In summer 2021, Federated Hermes and JLL approached landscaping partner Nurture about biodiversity opportunities at Erdington Industrial Park. Nurture conducted a survey and recommended:

  • Installing bug hotels to the front of the park. 
  • Fitting bird boxes on mature trees.
  • Sowing wildflowers across the large grass area.

Federated Hermes and JLL approved these interventions quickly and they were implemented within a few weeks, to capture the seasonal opportunity. Before works began, Nurture carried out a baseline survey of birds and insect life. This will now be repeated annually. The bird boxes will also be inspected annually and boxes where there is no activity relocated if appropriate.

Additional ecology initiatives implemented in 2022 include participating in Plantlife’s No Mow May project. By allowing wildflowers and grasses to bloom for longer, Erdington Industrial Park is providing a vital source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. The park team encouraged occupiers to support No Mow May in their areas as well. They are also engaging with Canal & River Trust Birmingham about potential future collaborations, such as installing educational panels and information sharing with occupiers. 

The ecology upgrades at Erdington Industrial Park build on earlier sustainability improvements. These include upgrading all street lighting with energy efficient LEDs, introducing electric vehicle charging points and procuring all electricity via renewable sources.

Financial

  • £4,335 for bug hotels, bird boxes and wildflowers, funded through the service charge.

Benefits

  • Biodiversity: The ecology upgrades at Erdington Industrial Park are designed to boost wildlife, including birds and insects, with progress monitored through annual surveys. This supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15 to halt biodiversity loss. Recent sightings include priority species and birds of conservation concern, such as starlings and house martins.
  • Health and wellbeing: Evidence shows that a thriving natural environment benefits both physical and mental health. Ecology upgrades at Erdington Industrial Park will improve the environment for occupiers and grow their connection to nature, promoting health and wellbeing.
  • Sustainability credentials: This project supports Federated Hermes’ and JLL’s sustainability objectives and enhances the credentials of Erdington Industrial Park. It also contributes to the asset’s performance on the GRESB Real Estate Assessment, the global ESG benchmark for real estate funds and companies worldwide. 

Challenges & Achievements

ENGAGEMENT

How do you engage industrial occupiers on biodiversity?

The Park Manager visited occupiers at Erdington Industrial Park before ecology upgrades were introduced, to discuss plans and secure their buy-in. The park team has encouraged occupiers to take part in No Mow May and consider wildflower planting in their own grass areas. Some occupiers are also looking to install outdoor seating for colleagues to enjoy time in the natural environment. Later in the year, the park team will share ecology survey findings and there may be additional opportunities to engage with occupiers around educational panels and share information from the Canal & River Trust Birmingham. Located close to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, Erdington Industrial Park has attractive walking routes on the doorstep and outdoor volunteering opportunities. 

 

[1] Federated Hermes Limited

“All businesses, to varying degrees, rely on the common goods that are provided by biodiversity and ecosystem services. The negative impacts of biodiversity loss pose a systemic risk to the global economy. Federated Hermes is a pioneer in investing in promoting biodiversity on industrial assets. Progress at Erdington Business Park shows how simple changes can enhance local biodiversity and promote occupier wellbeing. We look forward to building on this success across our industrial portfolio.” 

Sebastian Hayes, Senior Investment Manager at Federated Hermes