Habitat Restoration on Commercial Campuses

At NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), wildlife interactions are a pretty common occurrence for the facilities team. The campus, located in Colorado, has been purposely restored to nearly all native plantings, and with that come the creatures that would normally inhabit that landscape.

What I found particularly cool in a recent article on the campus was that rather than a strategy of exterminating animals when they enter the buildings, the onsite environmental specialist and wildlife biologist, Tom Ryon, figures out how to relocate and keep the creatures out without harming them. For example, managing the rattlesnakes involves making sure the envelope has no gaps or cracks. Good practice for snake (and energy) management.

Commercial facility campuses often have large green space around them. This opens an opportunity to restore the site to support native wildlife, and grants are often available for such work. Not only does this help maintain ecosystems, but native landscapes take care of themselves once established, needing less in the way of irrigation and coddling required with non-native plantings. However, as NREL shows, a synergistic facilities strategy with the native wildlife will also be needed.

Using a facility’s property to mitigate the negative impact of the facility on the landscape is an area of facilities management that I’m pretty excited by. This takes many forms, such as rooftop farms, extensive bioswales, restoring areas of the property to original wetland status, and more. What are some of the restorative strategies you’ve taken at your property?

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