Sustainability Case Study: A Natural Solution for a Retaining Wall

Natural retaining wall under construction

Through its 2025 Sustainability “Valuing Nature” Goal, Dow is committed to finding $1 billion by 2025 in business value from projects that are good for business and better for ecosystems. One of the seven 2025 Sustainability Goals, the Valuing Nature goal is an innovative approach by a corporation to consider nature in all of its business decisions.

The Valuing Nature Goal builds on work Dow has done in partnership with The Nature Conservancy that began in 2011. Scientists, engineers and economists from both organizations have worked together to create tools to assess the various services that nature provides to Dow operations and the community. Those ecosystem services include water, land, air, oceans, and a variety of plant and animal life.

The Valuing Nature Goal team exceeded its 2017 target by generating $120 million in cost savings or new cash flow from projects that are good for business and better for ecosystems. One example of a project is in Brazil. At Dow’s Aratu site, the project team found an erosion protection solution that incorporated the value of nature and helped stabilize a slope with a natural engineered technology that incorporates native plants.

In 2009, an area of Matarandiba Island was excavated, leaving 24-meter-high slopes that were eroding and causing safety hazards. In lieu of conventional solutions, such as removing the slopes or stabilizing them with concrete and tie-back anchors, the team installed green gabion walls. These walls include steel mesh and natural fiber filled with rocks and embedded with native vegetation.

Invented more than a century ago, the green gabion walls are being rediscovered today for many infrastructure and architectural projects, because they are sustainable; whereas concrete structures can have a high carbon footprint. In installing these walls, the Aratu team saved money and reduced the amount of energy and materials required for the project. The result was less forest being removed, a lower carbon footprint for project implementation, and a green, living slope in place of a concrete wall.

For more information about our Valuing Nature Goal, see our 2017 Sustainability Report.