London’s air quality is a growing concern for many residents; regular reports have revealed a worsening situation. Approximately 40,000 people die every year in the UK because of poor air quality. The Government has introduced several plans that aim to reduce air pollution. These often take the form of penalties for causing air pollution and encouraging people to switch to a low-emissions lifestyle. However there is another way that air quality in London could be improved.
The use of vertical forests on buildings is being trialled in several different countries in order to try and reduce the effects of air pollution. The theory is that by building skyscrapers that are covered in plants it will help absorb more of the pollutants and carbon dioxide in the air. This will improve air quality and it will release more oxygen into the atmosphere due to photosynthesis.
The idea of a vertical forest comes from Italian architect Stefano Boeri and the first ones were built in Milan in 2014. It consists of two towers with over 100 apartments inside. On the outside there are 800 trees, 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 plants. These plants can transform approximately 44,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into oxygen every year. It also acts as a natural filter for fine particles and noise from traffic. Creating the building was logistically challenging because they had to devise ways to securely plant trees and find species that would survive the increased wind speed. Arborists ascend the building in order to check the planting and prune when required.
China has struggled for many years to battle air pollution and has ambitious plans to use vertical forests to improve air quality in its major cities. Nanjing is home to eight million people and is the second largest city in the East China region. The city barely has room for new developments let alone land to plant trees so they plan on using a vertical forest building to improve air quality. It will be built across two buildings and will contain over 1,100 trees and 2,500 plants. This will be the first building of its kind in Asia but more are expected to follow in Chongqing, Shijiazhuang, Liuzhou, Guizhou, and Shanghai. China also has plans to build an entire forest city, which could be seen as the future of new developments throughout the world.
Using vertical forests like in Italy or those planned in China and the rest of the world could have a drastic effect on air pollution in London. It should certainly be considered for future developments because air pollution is an issue that needs to be tackled using whatever methods we can.
What do you think of vertical forests? Will they improve air quality? Would you like to see one in London? Share your thoughts with us.