Today we are celebrating our key worker colleagues who have been maintaining the parks and other green spaces in our towns and cities during this outbreak. While healthcare workers and other frontline service deliveries are often praised, we feel the work of grounds maintenance staff and companies has gone overlooked.
The green spaces in our towns and cities have always been vital to our wellbeing. Spending time in nature has many positive effects on health, reducing stress, and our risk of diseases such as Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease. But, with an increasing number of countries and organisations declaring a climate emergency, and the impact of Coronavirus still being felt, we believe that green spaces are going to become even more vital and will take on new importance in future construction projects.
Impact During Isolation
Knowing the benefits of green spaces on wellbeing, it’s easy to imagine how different the experience of lockdown must be for someone living in the suburbs with access to a back garden and nearby woods or green spaces, as compared to residents in inner-city tower blocks who have only their neatly maintained ‘green oasis’ to enjoy.
Managing Director of Ecological Planning & Research Limited (EPR), Ben Kite, said, ‘“The limitations imposed by Covid-19 lockdown have brought to the forefront the need to be clever about improving access and creating pockets of green space to protect our wellbeing, and that of the wildlife we are welcoming back to our streets, parks, and gardens.’ EPR is calling for a revision of local plans to place greater emphasis on the provision of green spaces throughout the country.
With the combined pressures of the climate emergency and the possibility of a prolonged period under social distancing, we can expect the provision of green spaces to become increasingly important to local planning authorities, and therefore to procurement. Construction companies would do well to consider how they can help councils meet their green space targets in every proposal.
As lockdown eases and people return to normal life with social distancing measures still in effect, organisations will come under pressure to provide safe spaces for their employees, students, and customers; that’s where good design and grounds maintenance comes into play.
In an interview with the BBC, Dr. Chris Smith, clinical lecturer in virology at the University of Cambridge, described the chances of catching COVID-19 outside “vanishingly small” due to the dilution of the aerosol virus particles created by a cough or sneeze with fresh air. It makes sense, then, that organisations will look to maximise the use of their outdoor spaces.
While the British weather may create something of a barrier to outdoor classrooms, we may see the construction of more covered outdoor spaces which will allow for outdoor working even on rainy days. Universities and schools are also likely to encourage students to spend as much time out of doors as possible and require the creation of outdoor breakout spaces as more students return.
Putting Coronavirus aside, the creation and maintenance of green spaces allow plenty of opportunity to develop innovative solutions that can help organisations meet their environmental targets, even in urban spaces. For example, the City Tree is a bench installation that includes a wall of moss that has the power to clean the air with the equivalent power of 275 trees.
Green Roofs are another innovation that can help even the most urban of buildings combat climate change. Typically planted with a layer of sedum plants, green roofs can reduce the urban heat island effect, clean the air, and produce oxygen – and they help reduce and slow stormwater run-off.
Managing your client’s land with a biodiversity action plan can also add value, allowing them to meet their targets for avoiding the use of harmful chemicals and benefitting the local wildlife.
When it comes to construction, the creation of ‘hedgehog highways’ (small holes left in fencing to allow the hedgehog to move between gardens) is a great social value offer, as it not only helps wildlife but also encourages a sense of community with residents coming together to care for their nocturnal visitors.
In short, we believe that our colleagues in grounds maintenance and construction have been unsung heroes in this crisis, and are well placed to offer solutions that can have a genuine impact on the wellbeing of both people and the planet. Your provision of green solutions should be an important part of any proposal you create. If you’d like help with developing your solution architecture to give you the best chance at winning new business, get in touch today.