Flight of sustainability

May 9, 2024

Flight of sustainability: Learning from migratory birds
by Sustainability Manager, Ásdís Ólafsdóttir

Winter has come to an end here in Iceland, and with that, comes the arrival of migratory birds. They arrive one after another, ready to nest and indulge in the abundance of summer’s food supply. These feathered travelers’ journey from one region to another, seeking out resources that vary depending on the time of year. As they migrate, they depend on finding areas with similar food supplies to sustain them as they have in the past. They, like many other animals, rely on following the key intake of sustainable development, which is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

Unfortunately, migratory birds face a challenge like many other organisms due to various human-induced factors. Habitat loss and degradation and the impacts of climate change are diminishing the availability of crucial feeding and nesting grounds. Additionally, pollution and other environmental stressors exacerbate these challenges. However, does this imply that human development, resource and land utilization should cease entirely? Certainly not. Instead, it necessitates a shift towards more sustainable practices. We must make a point as individual consumers and businesses to ask ourselves how we can make the world around us better – stop, think, and ask: is this the best we can do, or can we do better? If we take time to put sustainability at the forefront of our daily activities and decisions, then the whole practice becomes a lot easier and less overwhelming. 

While it’s easy to articulate this principle, many may question what constitutes sustainability and its significance. To illustrate, consider something close to my heart: the commitment to maintaining a healthy climate, enabling every organism on Earth like our precious migratory birds to flourish. This is what drives me in both my personal and professional day. In our daily operations, we can take incremental steps towards a more sustainable world. At atNorth, we endeavour to always respect the land around us, adhering to strict environmental guidelines and minimizing our impact on nature. 

In the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), there is an entire standard dedicated to Biodiversity & Ecosystems, designed to help companies understand the impact they have on biodiversity in order to align their business operations with biodiversity protection in future. I look forward to seeing the positive changes that this specific standard (among the other ESRS standards) will bring to the industry, and how it prompts us as humans to improve our treatment of planet Earth. 

As an industry, like many others, we are making strides to look after our world – from cooling technology to heat reuse to increasing energy efficiency. At atNorth, we give priority to choosing data center locations that reduce energy. We prioritize materials with lower carbon footprints in our buildings, such as the use of Glulam, a natural structural material made with wood that is FCS certified from sustainable forests where the manufacture, distribution and treatment all consume less energy than other building materials. We also consistently implement circular heat practices that reuse excess heat to provide heat and hot water for local residents as well as innovative cooling technology to reduce power usage, decrease the environmental footprint, and support sustainability initiatives within our facilities. 

These strides that we are making across so many industries are all crucially important to future generations – from mankind to our avian friends. We all hold a responsibility to change our mindset and day to day practices to support biodiversity and a sustainable environment. It’s time we look to and learn from migratory birds — the huge disruption and fight for survival that they face every day because our planet deserves better and our future is worth it. 

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