Toyota’s new headquarters is now the corporate home to more than 4,000 team members. But when it was still just an idea, developers knew this state-of-the-art campus needed to accommodate far more than just human beings.
“Wildlife habitat was part of the design consideration, right from the beginning,” says Mark Yamauchi, TMNA’s manager of Environmental Sustainability. “There was an understanding that native plantings harbor and support wildlife. So we needed to be as thoughtful about the exterior landscaping as we were about the interior office space.”
Yamauchi says that work is heading into its final stages. Once complete, Toyota hopes to secure certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council. The WHC is a nonprofit group of corporations, conservation organizations and individuals dedicated to restoring and enhancing wildlife habitat.
In Harmony with Nature
Toyota’s partnership with the WHC dates back to 2008, when Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky became the company’s first certified site. Today, 12 North American sites accounting for some 1,000 protected acres have achieved certification. This includes some non-manufacturing facilities such as the Toyota Arizona Proving Grounds and Toyota Technical Center York. TMNA is aiming to certify 20 sites, including the Plano headquarters, by 2021.
These efforts are part of an ambitious and visionary global undertaking known as Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050. Its mission is to transform Toyota into a company that creates a net positive impact on society and the planet by mid-century. To get there, Toyota has committed itself to taking on six primary challenges — including one that specifically calls for all Toyota facilities and processes to operate in harmony with nature.
In what ways is the new headquarters striving to do its part to achieve this goal? Yamauchi cited a few examples:
- Locating plants so they draw certain nuisance species away from areas on the campus where team members are likely to be
- Recognizing that flora and fauna biodiversity are integral to a balanced ecosystem
- Promoting pollinators to foster a healthy landscape
- Incorporating innovative pest management principles
These design elements dovetail with those that helped the campus’ structures achieve LEED Platinum certification
from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Better for Butterflies
And it doesn’t end there. Yamauchi says Plano will join a dozen other Toyota sites across North America in establishing waystations for one kingly species. That would be monarch butterflies, which migrate annually along routes that can cover as much as 3,000 miles from the east to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains in California during the winter.
“It all goes back to taking an integrated approach to the design of the campus,” says Yamauchi. “It’s about choosing native species, minimizing water and fertilizer use and eliminating waste. We were very proactive about this, not just in terms of the landscaping but also about the interaction between the open spaces and the animal life that lives there.”
By Dan Miller