Wild Profits: How Multinational Corporations Are Restoring Habitat and Saving Money

Article excerpt

When Frank Lloyd Wright was designing the famed Johnson Wax building in Racine, Wisconsin, in the early 1930s, he abruptly halted work on the project to fix a problem. A dam had broken on a pond on his Spring Green, Wisconsin estate. The resulting view outside the window upset him so much that he couldn't continue with the project until it was fixed.

Wright's green leanings were decades ahead of his time, but heralded a trend in multinational facility management. Companies are now finding that it's beneficial to employees and the bottom line to restore corporate lands as wildlife habitats. The phenomenon known as biophilia (literally, love of life), is increasingly being applied to corporate habitat philosophy.

Natural surroundings such as prairies, meadows, mountains and wetlands can be more comforting to employees - and enhance their productivity. Corporate habitat restorations can also save companies money.

Corporate managers are restoring habitats on their properties in a number of innovative ways. At Dupont's Asturias, Spain facility, for example, a natural wetland drainage system was installed instead of a conventional pipe system. According to Bill Walker of Dupont, some $1 million was saved per month based on the costs involved in permitting and installing a conventional system. The project worked so well for Walker and Dupont that the company promoted him.

The Dupont project was encouraged and later certified by a Silver Spring, Maryland-based group called the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). Born out of a discussion of leading environmentalists affiliated with the National Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League, The Business Roundtable and others, WHC is a unique partnership that works with multi-nationals to restore and improve habitat on their properties.

According to WHC President Joyce Kelly, "You can do what's right for the environment and it doesn't cost very much." WHC's certification program provides a third-party independent auditing of a company's efforts to improve habitat. The program awards a one-year certification after stringent criteria are met. Companies must document their efforts and allow WHC biologists to inspect the property to monitor habitat management plans and employee education.

If the program meets WHC's standards, it's listed in an internal registry and is eligible to win the council's "Corporate Habitat of the Year" award. …