IT Services is predominantly an urban-centric sector and the impacts on biodiversity are rarely direct and not of the same order or scale as in biodiversity zones in the hinterland e.g. the Western Ghats reserve. Therefore, our approach since inception more than five years back has been to turn our focus inward on our own campuses, many of which have reasonably large non-built up spaces. Our goals are twofold: (i) to convert five of our existing campuses to biodiversity zones and (ii) to design all our new campuses on biodiversity principles. In our approach towards campus biodiversity, our program takes an integrated approach towards the contribution in reducing energy and carbon intensity, improving water retention and ambient air quality.
Existing campus retrofits: We have initiated two programs in the last three years to convert existing campuses to biodiversity zones – (i) our Electronic City campus in Bangalore and (ii) our campus in Pune. We also conducted a flora and fauna assessment for our new campus in Hyderabad, in association with CII and WWF.
Electronic City campus biodiversity project: The first stage of our campus biodiversity project - the butterfly park – was completed in March 2013. The park is witness to hundreds of migratory butterflies who stop over in the park for nearly a month in their 400 Km pre monsoon annual migration from western to the Eastern Ghats in India. The second phase of the project, a ~3 acre Wetland park, was also completed in 2016.
Pune campus biodiversity project: We also have a second project in Pune which includes five thematic gardens – aesthetic and palm garden, spring garden, Ficus garden, spice and fruit garden – through plantations of native spaces specific to the local geography. This would be a unique project in a corporate campus with a dense year-round flowering of more than 240 species of native plants serving multiple ecological purposes. These are long term multi-year projects and similar programs will commence at two of our other campuses. In all these programs we work closely with expert partners in biodiversity, conservation, ecological design and communications.
A work environment which integrates biodiverse and natural design principles has multiple intangible benefits for employees and visitors – builds a larger sense of connectedness and emphasizes values of sensitivity and our place in the world around us. We regularly conduct photography, walks and plantation activities for employees and their children.
Urban farming: One such initiative is the “Nurture Your Patch” program, an urban farming project at one of our campuses. Selected employee teams undergo a session on urban farming from an experienced landscape architect. They were provided with gardening equipment, seeds, compost, water points and other know how. The teams are free to grow any variety of shrubs or small plants. Teams tend to their patches every day and some of the teams have already harvested produce. In addition, our operations team in two locations harvests produce regularly and donates to orphanages and special schools in proximate areas.
Urban biodiversity assessment framework: In association with ecobasics, we are also developing an ecosystem assessment framework for urban built campuses – which will address all the ecosystem services. This will take in observed floral and faunal species data along with other environmental data and provide a template for baselining and action planning.