"Believing in an environmentally sustainable future means acting today"

The InovEN Project stimulates employee and community environmental awareness

Regardless of the segment in which it operates, a company can only consider itself successful if care for the environment is a central part of its strategies. More than a demonstration of social and environmental responsibility, the creation of initiatives that engage internal and external audiences in educational practices and respect for biodiversity is the way to build an environmentally prosperous future.

It is for this purpose that the Biodiversity Project InovEN, newly created at the Fiat Automotive Plant (Betim, MG, Brazil), systematizes environmental preservation actions and structures already in place in the factory and incorporates new elements, with an educational mission. The project allows the industrial park to become a true center for environmental training for the local community, especially children and young people from schools in the region. The initiative is added to others of its kind distributed throughout the FCA units in the country. Student visits began in the second half of 2019.

Combining innovation and environment , hence its name, InovEN is structured in the factory along the "biodiversity route" as it’s known, presenting visitors with new preservation structures, such as the seedling nursery and the biodiversity trail, and others which have been in operation for a longer time: the Ecological Island, which has been operating since 1994, recycles and reuses waste generated at the plant, and the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETE), which reuses 99.7% of the water used. Recently, the ETE at the Jeep Automotive Plant in Pernambuco also reached similar levels of water.

oungsters observe Horta UrbanaOutdoor class: youngsters learn about plant characteristics and healthy eating.

"The biodiversity block brings together the orchard, an area filled with vegetation and a covered area where we are implementing new structures, such as the seedling nursery and an urban vegetable garden," explains Amanda Leite, FCA Environment Analyst for Latin America and responsible for designing the project. According to her, the objective is to stimulate the preservation of species typical of the local biome and to work on environmental and health issues, such as the importance of healthy eating.

Environmental Path

InovEN reveals the connecting points between the factory and nature, with green spaces that changes the visitor’s perspective on the industrial environment. "Believing in an environmentally sustainable future means acting to promote concepts and practices that demonstrate, for current and future generations, the value of a performance in synergy with nature", says Francesco Ciancia, FCA's head of Manufacturing for Latin America.

Neylor explains that the path through the various locations of the plant are marked with explanations on the environmental theme. For example, on the biodiversity trail, the guides explain the characteristics and origins of the trees present along the way, transforming the experience into an outdoor class. "At the end of the visit, I am convinced that children and teachers leave the factory with a much higher level of environmental awareness", says Neylor Bastos, FCA's Environment, Health and Occupational Safety Manager for Latin America.

Take a look at the Biodiversity Route inside the Fiat factory in the video below:

Images recorded before the Covid-19 pandemic.

InovEN House

To centralize the actions of the circuit, the company made the InovEN House, a sustainable structure dedicated to visitors and employees, which summarizes the five pillars of the project: environmental education, sustainability, biodiversity, innovation and integration. Located on the biodiversity block, it houses a meeting area and a reception hall for visitors. It is equipped with a sustainable air conditioner (which does not use refrigerant gas to reduce the temperature), a green wall (a kind of vertical bed that helps reduce the internal temperature), a water curtain (to reduce temperature and improve the humidity in the environment), glass walls (which favor natural lighting) and furniture made with recyclable materials.

Danilo Coelho, in charge of maintenance for the Manufacturing Engineering sector, is one of more than 200 employees of the factory who were involved in the consolidation of the new spaces for InovEN. He led a team of 15 people who worked in the recycling of materials for the construction of armchairs, tables, ceiling lining, among other objects at the InovEN House.

Wooden pallets on the ceiling of InovEN HousePallets recovered from the Ecological Island were used in the finishing touches of InovEN House.

"We developed projects for the furniture of the house and searched for the materials needed on the Ecological Island. In all, we disassembled and reused 250 wooden pallets. We also used car tires that would have otherwise been discarded, to create support for the potted plants", he explains. At the company since 2002, Coelho says that it was already noticeable the factory’s concern with the sustainability of its processes and with the correct disposal of waste. "I see InovEN as the maturing of these initiatives. It's an evolution," he says.

An Unforgettable Visit

Professor Maria José Mendes and about 40 9th graders from the João Batista Machado de Brito Municipal School in Betim participated in the InovEN visit at the end of 2019. For the teacher, the experience can be summed up in one word: unforgettable. "It was excellent. We visited several spaces of the factory that aroused the curiosity and interest of the students", recalls the teacher, who still describes the surprise of the students when they find so much green inside a car factory.

Students plant tree seedlings together with Mr. José Renato Pagano, Plant Manager at the Fiat Automotive PlantTo mark the end of the visit, students gather to plant a tree seedling on the biodiversity block.

Among the many remarkable moments of this "differentiated class", as she herself describes it, Professor Maria José highlights the closure of the tour, when students planted a seedling of ipê - a tree typical of the local biome - in the biodiversity quarter. This planting is part of all the schools that participate of InovEN. "The initiative deserves applause, because it broadens the understanding of these young people about the importance of combining development and sustainability without ever leaving aside the central role that environmental protection must play in our lives", he concludes.

Words: Roberto Ângelo

Pictures: Marketing

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