Tag Archives: Manchester

Every urban green gain counts

Early this summer, Brent Council unveiled its £90m new headquarters. Boasting a BREEAM rating of ‘outstanding’, the civic centre has a plethora of green features ranging from a clever natural ventilation system to wildlife friendly measures like bat boxes. It also features no less than 200 of our green screens as part of its landscaping scheme.

It’s an ambitious building. Brent has demonstrated what can be achieved when there are substantial upfront resources available. But valuable energy and sustainability gains can be made with far more modest means and, deployed in volume, can have a major beneficial impact on our the environment, our finances and our quality of life.

Across the board, public bodies are increasingly thinking more creatively about ways to create marginal green gains alongside grander greening schemes like, for example, congestion charging. Consider Bristol City Council which is set to save £500,000 per year on its energy bills by simply replacing high-pressure sodium lamps with ceramic metal halide lamps.

Urban greening is one instant and cost-effective method of boosting the sustainability credentials of both existing buildings and new build. For example, housing association Eastland Homes recently commissioned a 44m high living wall as part of the refurbishment of an apartment block in Manchester. It’s the highest living wall we’ve yet created.

Other public bodies such as Enfield Borough Council are using ‘living’ hoardings to help offset the carbon footprint of new developments – and enhance the locality. Enfield has installed a total of 70 sq m of ivy screens around a major regeneration site in Ponders End.

But the full potential of green screens as a tool to benefit the environment is yet to be tapped. Wherever there is a bare wall, there is an opportunity to reduce pollution, boost biodiversity levels and enhance the appearance of a locality.

If we are to truly tackle the big issues of climate change, excessive energy consumption, pollution and carbon emissions then no stone can be left unturned. We do need the grand gestures like Brent’s new civic centre – they act as a beacon of best practice. But we also need the relatively smaller scale measures like the judicious use of greenery and low energy lighting to ensure that every opportunity to create even a marginal gain for the environment is seized.

Mobilane living wall at the Library of Birmingham
Mobilane living wall at the Library of Birmingham
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Green facelift for Manchester apartment block

A block of flats owned by Eastlands Homes housing association in east Manchester has been given a green facelift with a Mobilane living wall that runs up the full height of the nine-storey building. The installation is one of our tallest installations yet.
The ivy WallPlanters will help to insulate the flats at Worsley Court in Rusholme as well as enhancing the look of the block, which was built in the 60s and is in the process of being refurbished by Eastlands Homes.

Importantly, the ‘green wall’ will also help to reduce pollution levels near the flats; Worsley Court is located on Wilmslow Road, a busy bus corridor with high pollutant levels. In total, nine ivy WallPlanters have been installed by Hedera Screens to cover 100 sq m of the building. The plants will remove the same number of pollutant particulates from the air as four to five average-sized trees, but take up a fraction of the space.

Despite being 44 meters tall, the WallPlanters will be easy to maintain because of a special root zone in the planters that has been designed to give the plants an ideal environment in which to grow. A sophisticated irrigation system supplies water and nutrients as required.

It was installed as part of a project to revamp the apartment block, whichforms part of a project of three multi-storey blocks owned by Eastlands Homes. One of the key priorities in refurbishing this building was to improve the insulation of the flats. The ivy will help to reduce heat loss from the building in winter, while in the summer months it will help to shield the building from the sun’s rays and keep the interior cool.

The finishing touches are added to Mobilane WallPlanters at Worsley Court, Rusholme.