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Honey from your own roof

Verena Bauer • 07/02/2022
Project 2028 bees ESG Project 2028 bees ESG

Imagine: Finally, after a long, grey winter, you are relaxing on a park bench, the first rays of sun are warming your face and you see a meadow strewn with a sea of flowers; snowdrops, tulips, hyacinths and crocuses – the early bloomers. Bees are buzzing from one flower to another busily, as if they can't wait for the sweet nectar of the next bloom. A nice thought, isn't it? Are you already looking forward to spring?

As part of the 2028 project, the bee population is to be increased by 10 percent by then

For most of us, bees are often simply part of spring and summer. Not to mention a delicious honey roll for Sunday breakfast. But what we only perceive as nice-to-have is of essential importance to nature. Bees have always maintained the ecological balance. Around 80 percent of all crops and wild plants are pollinated by honeybees and wild bees," explains Miriam Walch, Chief Communications Officer at Hektar NektarExternal Link. "The global bee population has been declining continuously for decades. And to an alarming extent. 30 years ago, there were 75 percent more insects than today. For this reason, Hectares of Nectar together with Project 2028 has  launched an initiative to protect the regional bee population and increase their number by ten percent by 2028."

Around 250,000 honeybees given a new home

We at Cushman & Wakefield think this is a great idea and have partnered with the Hectares of Nectar initiative as part of our corporate social responsibility External Link corporate social responsibility activities. We will give around 250,000 honeybees a new home close to each of our German locations. The five empty beehives with the C&W door signs are already with the beekeepers who will soon look after our bees with a lot of love and care. Our little colleagues are expected to move at the end of April.  

Project 2028 bees plate Project 2028 bees plate

Rooftop gardening should already be taken into account in the building planning

We would prefer to have our buzzing colleagues right in the immediate vicinity. But for bees to feel comfortable, cosy beehives are not enough. Flowering meadows with a wide variety of flowers are their preference. However, they are not keen on long flight distances, so it’s an obvious step to create a meadow on the roof of the office building. "Rooftop gardening, i.e. the creation of a garden on a flat roof that is usually accessible, is becoming increasingly popular," says Axel Funke, Head of Sustainability DACH at Cushman & Wakefield. "But a little earth on the roof is not enough," explains Funke. "The feasibility must always be checked in advance, because with each bag of earth, you also increase the permanent loads on the roof. And when it rains and the earth binds the water, this can affect the load-bearing capacity. It is therefore advisable to call in a structural engineer at an early stage to evaluate the building and also possible measures to upgrade the lead-bearing structure."

Rooftop Gardening Rooftop Gardening

"In the case of new buildings, however, green areas can already be considered during planning. Here, the builder only has to make sure that the roots do not pierce the waterproofing allowing moisture to penetrate into the roof. The roof structure is therefore a bit more complex – but nowadays this is easily possible," explains Funke.

Safety is also a top priority for roof gardens

Safety – for both bees and humans – is another topic in rooftop gardening. There must be no openings on the roof into which bees can fly and become trapped. Trees and tubs must be secured against falling over. In addition, technicians and facility managers still need to be able to access all technical equipment such as cooling units and antennae. The risk that people can be stung by the bees must also be kept as low as possible. Last but not least, the neighbours must not feel disturbed by the small beneficial insects. "To ensure that there are no misunderstandings here, we recommend discussing the project with the neighbours beforehand, making a preliminary inspection with the beekeeper and including the topic of "bees" directly in the contract with the facility manager," advises the real estate expert. If you are not the owner of the property, but a tenant, there are further hurdles, as the landlord has to realise all the framework conditions for the "Rooftop Gardening & Honeybees" project.  

bee on stone bee on stone

Many paths lead to a greener property

So creating an idyllic roof garden is not exactly easy. But with good planning, a lot is possible. In addition, there are many other ways to make your own office building a little greener and more environmentally friendly. "Moss walls and vines, for example, are ideal for wall and fence greening and at the same time inhibit unwanted graffiti sprayers," Funke suggests. "In addition, environmentally friendly building materials can preferentially be used – even outdoors. For example, open-pore paving stones or water-permeable asphalt cost only minimally more, but these allow rainwater to soak into the earth. Another idea is the installation of photovoltaic panels, but issues such as regular maintenance, the feeding of electricity into the power grid and fire protection measures must be adequately considered." 

Become more sustainable with analysis, exchange and automation

Whether via bees, roof gardening or a green office – there are many ways in which a company can act in compliance with its ESG strategy. "One very effective energy-saving measure is often not even considered; evaluating how and why the building is used and setting the systems accordingly is often an excellent first step in reducing unnecessary energy consumption. Ventilation, heating, cooling – everything works automatically in modern office buildings via appropriate controls. But it's all about the right settings. Although this requires close coordination between facility manager, property manager, owner and tenant, it is often very worthwhile," says Funke.   

Project 2028 ESG Project 2028 ESG

"For truly sustainable buildings it’s not only ecological aspects that are important, social and entrepreneurial components are also key. We support you as an investor and user in the development and implementation of your holistic ESG strategy – future-oriented, meaningful and tailored to your wishes."

Axel Funke I Head of Sustainability DACH

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