Living walls and roof gardens should be part of strategic strategies for cleaner cities, says consultant

Big Ben reimagined with a green building envelope © Arup/Chris Baker
Big Ben reimagined with a green building envelope © Arup/Chris Baker

Living walls, roof gardens and urban farming are a key solution to urban air pollution. So says Arup’s latest Cities Alive report: Green Building Envelope.

The study shows that, far from being just ‘architectural window dressing’, living walls can reduce air pollution by up to 20 per cent at street level as well as having a significant cooling effect in denser areas, slowing storm water, reducing noise levels by up to 10db, filtering fine dust particles and saving energy. At the same time, with conventional green spaces such as parks under threat, green buildings offer a way to keep people connected to nature and so help relieve stress.

The report was compiled by experts from eight Arup skill networks around the world, looking at green infrastructure schemes in London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Melbourne and Hong Kong. It’s the fourth report in the firm’s Cities Alive series, looking at shaping the future city.

As a result of the findings, the global engineer and consultant recommends cities take a strategic approach to greening as part of their policies on cleaner urban environment.

Tom Armour, global landscape architecture leader at Arup, said: ‘Tackling rising air pollution is a priority to help improve people’s health. As our cities continue to become built up, “grey” structures, such as walls and roofs, are a source of untapped potential for adapting into green spaces. When well-designed, green envelopes can have a positive impact on tackling air pollution, but can also deliver a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits to make cities more attractive and healthier places to be.’

Download the report here 

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