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Focus on decarbonization: the Oxygen Area of Volkswagen Group Italia

4.7.2022
Focus on decarbonization: the Oxygen Area of Volkswagen Group Italia

A large area of intensive greenery with species carefully selected for their particular abilities to absorb CO2 and air pollutants has been built inside the Verona headquarters: yet another initiative that will help achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Volkswagen Group Italia's sustainability strategy, defined under the environmental mission goTOzero, aims for a specific goal: the company's carbon neutrality by 2050. A goal common to the entire Volkswagen Group, which is and will be pursued systematically, through various projects.

The Oxygen Area

One of these is the Oxygen Area, built inside the Verona headquarters, between the Spareparts Distribution Center and the Office Building. It is an intensive green zone, spread over a total area of 635 m2, consisting of trees, shrubs and grass lawn. A garden? No, it’s much more: in fact, the species in the Oxygen Area have been carefully selected for their characteristics - which are the absorption of air pollutants and CO2 and the release of oxygen - resulting in an efficient air purification process.

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Significant cuts in CO2

In concrete terms, once the plants reach maturity, the purifying action will result in the absorption of 7,054 kg of CO2 and 22 kg of pollutants and the production of 5,000 kg of oxygen per year*: the activity is certified by the IBE-CNR (Institute for BioEconomy of the National Research Council of Bologna). In fact, an IBE-CNR detection unit installed within the Oxygen Area constantly analyzes the surrounding atmospheric quality and measures the presence of molecules such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, particulates (both PM10 and PM2.5) and fine dust.

Clean air thanks to purifying plants

The 170 m2 grass lawn is surrounded by more than 320 specimens of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, forming a 'green frame'; the species selected are not rare, but common plants with amazing purifying properties: lime trees, turkey oaks, maples, rosemary, and myrtles, to name a few. These create a kind of 'chamber' in which the environmental conditions are particularly favorable in terms of air purification, CO2 absorption, and oxygen production, concretely contributing to the improvement of the surrounding air quality.

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Quality of business life

The execution was handled by Sgaravatti Group, which created the concept and conceived the design. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, the Oxygen Area is a valuable resource in terms of improving the quality of corporate life: the space is available to all employees for breaks and informal meetings; equipped with Wi-Fi and seating, it can be used as an alternative workstation, but also for events and meetings.

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Toward carbon neutrality

Volkswagen Group Italia's commitment to carbon neutrality includes numerous initiatives: from the progressive decarbonization of the corporate fleet to the already completely green energy supply, i.e., 100% from certified renewable sources, passing through the continuous improvement of processes and the efficient management of all resources. The most significant project is the complete renovation of the Verona headquarters.

The work, which is currently underway, began in November of 2021 and will bring enormous benefits: it will considerably improve the energy efficiency of the building, which will go from class C to A4; thanks to this, energy requirements will be drastically reduced and will go from 228.44 to 40.00 kWh/m2 per year, to which will correspond a cut in CO2 emissions of 702 t/year (30 % less than today). Once completed, the new Volkswagen Group Italia headquarters will be eligible to receive Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) certification. In addition, the Company will identify climate protection projects that it will support to offset unavoidable emissions, in line with its environmental policy.

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*The evaluation is based on the i-Tree Eco model developed by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by IBE-CNR for adaptation to local Italian microclimatic conditions; the calculation is carried on the basis of plant size and environmental conditions.

VGI | Responsible OU: VP | Creation date: article date | Class 9.1

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