Pollination, Ecosystem Services, and LEED
OK, so we all know pollinators are good, right?
- Right. Because plants need to be pollinated to bear fruit. And, of course, to reproduce. Here’s a nice illustration of what under-pollinated fruit looks like. (click on the blackberry pic at the top of page).
But what if a plant isn’t a crop… like, why exactly is it that annual flowers need to be pollinated? or trees on manicured lawns, for that matter?
- This is where my biology background starts to feel a little rusty… but there are answers to be found on the miraculous source of all knowledge, AKA cyberspace. “The transfer of pollen in and between flowers of the same species leads to fertilization, and successful seed and fruit production for plants. Pollination ensures that a plant will produce full-bodied fruit and a full set of viable seeds.” Thank you, Pollinator Partnership. Well, it does matter if you want to have your plants bear fertile seed, I guess.
So… they’re doing this good, like producing fruit, and seeds. Then, other things in the ecosystem will see some benefits too, like there will be more food for birds, and squirrels, and chipmunks, and even deer… right?
- Right! And that pollinating service creates value in ecosystems (aka “Ecosystem services”), urban and non-urban. Most people think about the value of pollinators solely as their crop value, but on a broader level, we’re talking about pollinators providing value to ecosystems and habitats.
- There is a film about professional pollinators I’d love to watch, if someone can get their hands on it. It’s called Pollen Nation, and you can see the trailer here.
Awesome. So can I get some credit for that if I want to make my building greener?
- only as an “innovation credit” for LEED points. If you’re a case like our fantastic, LEED-Gold rated SIS building, you’ve already maxed out on innovation credits. So, currently, the USGBC will only give you a landscape credit for protecting or restoring habitats.
So we need to make a good case to the USGBC that pollinators are quantitatively an asset towards restoring habitat, if bees and other pollinators (like batboxes!) are to be encouraged on a more systematic basis?
- Correct, young Jedi. Go do some research on this and see if you can make change for the forces of good in the world.