Buildings with ‘green envelopes’ can reduce air pollution by 20%

Buildings with ‘green envelopes’ can reduce air pollution by 20%

With 7 billion people expected to live in cities by the end of the century can the use of ‘green façades’ help to reduce energy consumption and improve air quality and people’s well-being?

A new study shows that moss and vegetated walls, vertical farming and roof gardens can significantly help combat air pollution.

The engineering consultancy Arup has used advanced computer software to provide a visual representation of the flow of gasses, and help determine the effectiveness of green building envelopes to reduce pollutant concentrations. Plant species, such as pine and birch, are particularly effective because of their ability to capture large quantities of particulate matter.

The ARUP study highlights the fact that green envelopes can reduce sound levels from emergent and traffic noise by up to 10 decibels in certain situations. They can also reduce peak energy consumption in traditional buildings by up to 8%. Increasing the quantity of vegetation in a city can also reduce temperatures by up to 10°C in dense centres, the research indicated.

Green building envelopes can help to reduce the urban up-heating (heat island effects), filter fine dust on the streets and reduce noise levels.

Retrofitting cityscapes with vegetation can improve the health and well-being of urban citizens. The ARUP consultants are calling on cities to adopt a strategic approach to “greening” to create cleaner environments.

Read the ARUP report here