Biodiversity is important to our family of companies that provide a variety of environmental services. Although biodiversity is limited in the workplace, office plants add to our biodiversity as well as out exterior features.
WSC supports industry groups that value biodiversity such as the U.S. Compost Council, the Iowa Sustainable Business Forum, various vegetation management associations, the Arbor Day Foundation, and more.
Even though our footprint is small, we understand the value of plants for the office interior. They improve air quality, absorb pollutants, reduce airport dust, and absorb background noise, creating a positive environment for our employees and guests. WOS supplies the corporate office with plants placed throughout the office from the lobby, offices, workstations, common areas, café, connector and other areas throughout the office. They also provide landscaping work and a different seasonal arrangement for our front desk in the lobby each week.
Employee Community Garden
The community garden has 34 plots filled with 68CY of Lounsbury’s garden mix which is a mixture of topsoil, sand, and compost. The Wellness Committee oversees the community garden and assigns plots to employees in early spring. The plots provided by WSC each have an irrigation system to assist with watering, and a garden shed to store tools and garden materials. The community garden utilizes the compost program throughout the season to dispose of wasted produce and plants. As mentioned previously, the Wellness Committee was able to donate produce to the Food Bank of Iowa and had lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers available to employees throughout the summer.
At the remodeled headquarters, 70 trees were planted of 29 different species with an estimation to have the potential to sequester 66.2 tons of carbon a year. (Source: A medium growth coniferous or deciduous tree, planted in an urban setting and allowed to grow for 10 years, sequesters 23.2 and 38 lbs of carbon respectively Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculator – Calculations and References | US EPA)
A total of 857 trees, conifers, shrubs, perennials & grasses were planted during the WSC renovation in 2021.
- Trees: 70 planted, 29 species
- Conifers: 33 planted, 15 species
- Shrubs: 162 planted, 26 species
- Perennials: 392 planted, 22 species
- Grasses: 200 planted, 7 species
Landscape Design Objectives
- Provide native trees and plants that will fit into the natural theme of the design and that will provide a natural food source and cover for migratory songbirds.
- Provide a deer resistant (tolerant) tree and plant palette.
- Ensure that we do not have a monoculture of trees/plants. As pests and diseases emerge in the future, it is important that we choose a wide variety of plants. This prevents massive loss of specific plants if a new pest should appear in our area.
- Seasonal interest – select trees and plants that will offer interest through all seasons: spring flowers, summer shade with different leaf sizes and textures, fall color and winter interest with interesting bark or overall plant structure.
- Block or enhance views – block unappealing views and enhance beautiful views through tree and plant placement.
- Provide sustainable pollinator habitat and food source for honeybees, butterflies and other wildlife.
Incorporated into the 3-acre area where the employee walking trail is the future home of a pollinator space project. This small acreage was dedicated to native habitat, and therefore WSC partnered with the Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund (BBHF) to participate in their pollinator habitat program called Seed A Legacy. The BBHF’s project on campus grounds will establish a high-quality pollinator habitat to ensure that honeybee and monarch butterfly populations thrive. The BBHF works with landowners, conservationists, scientists and beekeepers to design and build healthy and sustainable pollinator habitats.
A cover crop seeding of oats was utilized to protect the soil surface and for weed suppression. In November, the corporate office staff at the headquarters hand-seeded the space by dedicated department area for frost seeding for a 2022 spring germination. One a low native prairie mix dedicated to the bee pollinator species and a tall native prairie mix for butterfly pollinator species. By planting two separate mixtures, WSC will be providing abundant lush and dense forage with the clover mix, which can also be used as a prescribed fire break. The monarch mix contains slower growing wildflowers that will provide nectar resources for monarchs and other pollinators, and a place for monarchs to lay eggs.
Spring 2022 was the first growing season. As expected, the habitat was full of weeds. The native plants were growing roots and not much was seen above four to five inches. Mowing by WOS played an important part to reduce the weed load.
In its second season in 2023, a few blooms from early establishers will start to appear. By 2024, a higher number of plants will begin to bloom. The seed mixtures are custom designed to include species that bloom at different times and have various colors and flower shapes.