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Naturalis and KPN unveil the Netherlands’ first green fiber exchange

The Netherlands’ first nature-inclusive fiber exchange was unveiled yesterday. This green structure is located in Leiden and will benefit local biodiversity and water storage and cool the city. Another 10 locations are set to follow next year.

The herb roof features dead wood and little mounds, while the walls have plants climbing up them that produce flowers and berries and are hung with insect hotels created from tree trunks with holes in them. These additions make this structure in Leiden the Netherlands’ first nature-inclusive fiber exchange. Its aim is to create space for local biodiversity and green the living environment. The new exchange was officially unveiled yesterday and can now be admired by one and all.

Starting point
Development of the new-look structure started a number of months ago with the following question: ‘What does a nature-inclusive structure look like?’. KPN – the company asking the question – wanted to know how it could use its infrastructure locations to contribute to improved biodiversity. It approached a research team from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center for help. One of the researchers, Fleur van Duin, refers to the current nature-inclusive structure as the starting point for increased biodiversity: “You can still see a lot of empty holes on and around the structure; they’ve been left empty deliberately to give current plants and future seedlings space to grow”, she explains. “It will be a green oasis in the future.”

The hope is that this nature-inclusive approach to construction will inspire companies, individuals and municipalities. Van Duin: “The various elements can be used in similar constructions, like transformer houses, bus shelters and garden sheds, as well. To promote biodiversity, we need to look for ways to make a large-scale impact. A nature-inclusive approach to building is a great place to start.”

KPN Sustainability Manager Brechtje Spoorenberg agrees. “KPN is a sustainability frontrunner where circularity and reducing energy use and CO2 emissions are concerned. Biodiversity is an important factor in all the above and will only be successful if utilized widely in society. We are pleased that this fiber exchange and others are now gaining an extra, sustainable function.”

Biodiversity, water storage and cooling
The green elements of the exchange aren’t just an attractive addition for local residents. They also benefit local water management and have a cooling effect on their surroundings. Spoorenberg: “We can use this structure to test and assess the effects that its new, extra function has on biodiversity, temperature, noise and power consumption. We will then incorporate the results into our plans to add at least 10 more exchanges in the years ahead and, by doing this, green the living environment in other places in the Netherlands too.”

Knowledge Naturally!
KPN gained an answer to its question via Knowledge Naturally!, a Naturalis project that has been made possible with the collaboration of ASN Bank and a.s.r. Both of the above want to work with Naturalis to play an important role in making society more sustainable. The project aims to make residential, working and living environments healthy, nature-inclusive and climate-proof. The research necessary to achieve this aim has the financial support of ASN Bank, which is making 2% of insurance premiums available for this purpose. Click here to see the final product.

CT Bureau

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