At RVi, our purpose is to inspire people to be outside and engage in the community around them. We look for opportunities to apply this purpose to all that we do – and occasionally we don’t have to look very far.
Last month, RVi client Taylor Morrison announced a historic partnership with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) aimed at elevating the homebuilder’s land development and sustainability practices. Taylor Morrison currently owns or controls more than 8,000 acres in or adjacent to protected areas and areas of high biological diversity value. This new initiative seeks to connect homeowners to nature by engaging them in the protection of these sensitive areas.
On the heels of this announcement, we sat down with Robert Johnson, Director of Land Planning and Development for Taylor Morrison’s Phoenix office, to learn more about the partnership with NWF and its impact on our current work.
What motivated Taylor Morrison to pursue this partnership with NWF?
As a homebuilder and land developer, we have a responsibility to act as environmental stewards. Our teams have demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental conservation, but we knew the expertise of an esteemed organization like the National Wildlife Federation could help us improve and expand the efficacy of our efforts. NWF’s programs and resources, including their Certified Wildlife Habitat® program, provide an accessible and effective pathway for us to ensure we carry out best practices in habitat management – and pass along those practices to future community stewards. With the aid of NWF’s wealth of educational resources, we can also share their mission and message with our customers and residents in order to amplify our combined efforts.
What specific NWF initiatives are you targeting for your communities?
We have set goals around three specific partnership programs for 2019. First, we have committed to attain at least one NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat in each of our divisions. This goal involves team training that will help divisions replicate the certification process, so ultimately we aim to certify many more open spaces. Second, we are targeting a critical pollinator species that relies on habitat across the U.S. – the monarch butterfly. We are working with NWF to plant at least one monarch butterfly garden in each division this year, with more to come as we refine our process. Lastly, we are collaborating with NWF to design and build Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) nature playscapes in select communities in lieu of traditional playground equipment. ECHO playscapes incorporate natural materials and designs that have been shown to improve the quality of outdoor play for kids. They also blend well with the existing landscape to enhance the beauty of our communities.
What immediate and long-term impacts do you think this partnership will have?
Initially we are focused on ensuring that our partnership with NWF becomes an integral part of Taylor Morrison’s culture. We’re building a foundation of awareness and training internally so we are fully prepared to share our expanding partnership initiatives — and NWF’s extensive educational resources — with our residents, customers and broader communities. Ultimately, we envision a legacy of communities that showcase the inherent beauty of native wildlife habitat and play a role in influencing the next generation of wildlife advocates. It is an honor to have NWF as expert advisers in this endeavor.
How does this effort fit in to the overall picture of what homebuyers are seeking?
We see incredible value in preserving the unique beauty of natural landscapes, and we believe residents will be inspired to maintain that value in their communities for generations. We know that people are naturally drawn to thriving environments and have observed firsthand how residents make an activity out of observing wildlife in their communities. The experience of nature is memorable and meaningful, and we hope to create that experience more and more in our communities through applying NWF’s habitat standards to open spaces and parks.
We’re very excited to be working with you on an upcoming project in Phoenix. Can you talk a little about how this new initiative will influence the project?
We are committed to developing land respectfully, especially in such unique environments as the Sonoran Desert. The project is in early stages, but we are reviewing opportunities and strategies with NWF to apply their Certified Wildlife Habitat standards to planned open space throughout the community. We are also engaged with NWF’s Arizona affiliate to influence the way we design the planned community from a local perspective. We know that RVi shares our vision to create inspiring outdoor landscapes, so we are excited about the possibilities this collaboration presents.
Thanks, Robert, for sharing these details with us. We look forward to working together to promote the protection of wildlife habitat and engaging homeowners in the process!