Interview with Marco Gerazounis, CEO of Blue Titan Investment Group (BTIG)
FT: Can you tell us more about the BTIG Rescue Program?
MG: Sure, as a sizeable developer, part of the process is always an evaluation of a proposed site – whether that be for commercial or residential use. And of course, each site will present an environmental aspect, in some form or manner. We like to take the approach of saving, rescuing or rehabilitating the fauna & flora of every project we are involved in over and above the environmental impact study conducted on all of our development sites. We’ve taken this one step further and have also intervened on other developer’s sites, not related to our own projects where we have rescued bullfrogs, hedgehogs, pangolins, and even peacocks over the years! It’s an ongoing concern, with the aim being to lessen the impact of large-scale developments on the environment. Afterall, it’s part of our ethos.
FT: Marco, can you tell us more about the long-term environmental initiatives BTIG has put into place?
MG: Well, for the last 5 years we have actively tried to reduce our carbon footprint as far as possible. Not just paying lip service to environmental best practices but trying to incorporate them in a “living” sustainable way in all our developments. As part of this program we have planted or relocated over 300 trees over the last five years!
FT: Can you give us a specific example?
MG: As an example, with regards to fauna & flora, we have rescued or participated in numerous initiatives. One that is close to my heart, is the indigenous Giant African bullfrog. Their natural environment is shrinking, and summer migration patterns have been severely affected. It’s common knowledge that a sign of a healthy eco systems is the number of frogs & bees in any given environment. The growing population & suburban development has a direct impact on the Africa Bullfrog. As a large-scale developer, we have a responsibility to lessen the impact as far as possible. At our new development in Steyn City we have dedicated half the site to a wildlife sanctuary, that is 40,000 square meters dedicated to saving the natural fauna & flora onsite. We would love to partner with a likeminded brand to develop a plan for this area, that includes the preservation of the African Bullfrog and so many other indigenous specifies in the area.
FT: Why do you feel this is important to your company?
MG: I believe that if everyone who has an impact on the environment, whether they are travelling, consuming goods or building, should try and lessen the impact by offsetting the impact their actions have on our planet. Environmental offsets compensate the effects we have by our actions and we strive to do this with every project. In cases where the environmental impact shows that we won’t be able to offset the impact, these sites (or portions thereof) are then not developed.
FT: How do you assess the impact your company will have?
MG: Please draw up something from this: https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/12630bb4-2c10-4c8e-815f-2d7862bf87e7/files/offsets-how-use.pdf
FT: In conclusion, surely this comes at quite a cost to BTIG?
MG: Of course, there is a monetary impact, but we feel that it is an integral part of our brand identity, and as I mentioned, we are open to working or collaborating with any third party to be able to do more in the future.