Why did we install an urban farm on the roof of our Paris HQ?
To promote biodiversity, we’ve made a number of changes throughout our organisation. One of these was to install an urban farm on the roof our headquarters in Paris. But what is the significance of this decision, how did it come about, and how else are we helping to prepare our cities for the future?
BNP Paribas Real Estate and the BiodiverCity charter
In 2018, along with 20 other names in the real estate industry, BNP Paribas Real Estate made a commitment to urban biodiversity by signing the BiodiverCity charter. The charter, which is managed by the International Biodiversity & Property Council (IBPC), promotes biodiversity in cities around the world by encouraging builders, investors, architects, public institutions, owners and tenants to commit to 10 key actions which will help integrate biodiversity into urban construction projects.
With biodiversity at the heart of our own CSR strategy, BNP Paribas Real Estate is proud to be a signatory to this initiative, especially as we have already been encouraging biodiversity in our projects for many years. For instance, we will create the first ever tea plantation in Paris as part of our Ternes-Villiers development, and now in collaboration with Peas & Love and landscapers Mugo we have installed an urban farm on the roof of our Paris headquarters. This is an example of our commitment to biodiversity and inspire other players in the real estate sector to follow our lead.
The building sector accounts for 24% of greenhouse gas emissions in France. This is why BNP Paribas Real Estate is committing to take climate change issues into account in our operations and activities. Our ambition is to contribute to the development of sustainable cities by providing products and services that are respectful of the environment, energy efficient, and concerned with the health and well-being of their occupants.
Ternes-Villiers: experimentation and regeneration on the Île-de-France ring road
The winner of the Réinventer Paris competition, Ternes-Villiers is a landmark development supported by BNP Paribas Real Estate. We are helping to reclaim a part of the outer city of Paris previously lost to a ring road by adding some much-needed biodiversity to the area.
The 18,000m² development provides around 70 homes, plus 30 social housing units, and incorporates shopping units on the ground floor plus office spaces designed for start-ups. But the defining feature is the 3,000m² of landscaped area, which includes a shared garden where the first 100% Parisian tea will be grown, processed and sold.*
Our CSR commitments to biodiversity
“Our CSR ambition,” says Catherine Papillon, Director of Sustainability & CSR at BNP Paribas Real Estate, “is to contribute to the development of the sustainable city by offering products and services that are considerate of the environment, energy efficient and that take into account the health and well-being of occupants.
“We consider it our responsibility to share with our real estate stakeholders our vision of the sustainable city of tomorrow.”
At BNP Paribas Real Estate, we are committed to ensuring that our decisions have a lasting, positive effect on the planet. This commitment underpins every business decision we make, from our supply lines through to the way we manage our assets. It is also why we are committed to ensuring we do everything we can to improve the biodiversity of our buildings. With the building sector accounting for 24% of France’s greenhouse gas emissions, our aim is to create buildings that add to the Earth, rather than take away from it.
We are proud of the fact that 100% of BNP Paribas Real Estate’s real estate production is environmentally certified and we are working closely with a number of partners to introduce new innovation and technology into the business in order to cut CO2 emissions wherever possible.
The urban farm at our Paris HQ
The urban farm is split into two pieces, one on each roof of the two main buildings that make up our Issy-les-Moulineaux HQ. Both areas are accessible to our employees, with each serving a unique purpose. The first green space is for employees to rent plots, which they are encouraged to cultivate with the support of an Urban Farmer; the second is purely experimental, as we try with Mugo and Agro Paris Tech Université to find the species best suited to life in the centre of a large city like Paris. The combined size of both urban farms is around 640m².
Of the spaces that are available to BNP Paribas Real Estate staff, each plot of around 3m² is capable of growing 71 varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs, and can produce up to 25kg of produce per year. The plots are maintained throughout the year by a community gardener employed by BNP Paribas Real Estate, who ensures that staff members know how to care for their crops and protect them from insects. The community gardener even hosts cookery workshops to teach staff how to prepare the ingredients they harvest.
The urban farm fulfils a number of BNP Paribas Real Estate’s other ambitions too:
- It is an attractive feature of the BNP Paribas Real Estate HQ. The greenery on our roof draws attention of people at ground level and helps our buildings feel part of the natural as well as the urban environment.
- It contributes to the well-being of our employees. Staff are encouraged to come to the urban farm to unwind amidst nature during their breaks. The crops themselves produce an unlimited supply of healthy fruit which anyone can enjoy.
- We have created a cycle we call “from roof to ground floor” in which we use produce harvested from the urban farm in our staff cafeterias. Our aromatic herbs have become a big feature in the corporate restaurant.
- The farms also encourage social cohesion. Staff are encouraged to work in teams of five to tend their patches. Meanwhile, clients and visitors are always welcome to visit the urban farm too
In the words of Catherine Papillon, “the urban farm is a really collaborative and relaxing place, which allows us to raise employees’ awareness of biodiversity, both personally and professionally.”