Tag Archives: Staffordshire University

Greenbuild Expo 2013 – The Air We Breathe

It was, roughly speaking, in the mid 1990s that someone, most likely in the US, thought to put together the words ‘green’ and ‘infrastructure’. Roll on to 2013 and the concept of green infrastructure is still a relatively unfamiliar concept outside the green sector, but it is one that is increasingly set to take centre stage. Though exact definitions of green infrastructure may vary, the consensus is that its key purpose is to produce cleaner air. And that’s a matter that concerns every one of us.

I had the opportunity to speak on the issues, practical challenges and solutions involved with greening our urban environments at this year’s Greenbuild Expo. The challenge is stark. World-wide, more and more people are living in urban environments with limited access to green space, while – at the same time – in many parts of the world pollution levels are increasing. In Europealone, a 10% increase in urbanisation is expected between 2000 and 2015, while 45 million people already have limited access to green space. There is a huge body of research that links poor air quality to higher asthma rates, lung problems and even stunted lung growth in children.

There’s also a growing body of research evidence to link greenery in the form of trees, plants and other vegetation to a happier, healthier urban living experience. Among their many virtues, plants breathe out oxygen and remove pollutant matter or dust – called PM10s – from the air. In addition, greenery also encourages bio-diversity in cities, offers shade, promotes a feeling of wellbeing and can even help reduce crime levels.

At Mobilane, we are working in partnership with Staffordshire University to explore more fully the range of benefits offered by green infrastructure. It was my pleasure to present at Greenbuild alongside John Dover, Professor of Ecology at the university, who talked about the meaning of green infrastructure and the potential for integrating greenery into urban areas.

A creative approach will certainly be needed to ramp up the green volume in our cities. Trees take up huge amounts of space and require relatively high levels of maintenance. Our living screens and Living Walls offer a vertical way to green up space that produces immediate results both in terms of aesthetics and PM10 reduction. We also have a range of temporary green screens such as Living Hoardings that can boost greenery levels around construction sites – and help offset building projects’ carbon footprint.

If green, living structures are to become an integrated feature of urban landscapes, our notion of how greenery is used will need to become far broader. But the results will be well worth it – cleaner air for everyone.

For more information about Mobilane’s green screens, Living Walls and other products, please visit our website www.mobilane.co.uk

Professor John Dover of Staffordshire University and  me at the Greenbuild Expo in Manchester. 

Work with researchers and clients undertaken to highlight benefits of welI designed green spaces

We have started a pioneering partnership with academics from Staffordshire University which we believe will help both our existing and future customers better understand how well-managed green planted spaces can enhance wellbeing and help to solve social and environmental problems.

From improving mental health and reducing crime to improving air quality, the issues that the installation of a well-designed green space can resolve are diverse. In order to put these benefits on a more scientific footing, we, along with Staffordshire University, are asking clients – whether from the private or public sector – to come up with suggestions of what areas they would like investigating. Scientists from the university will then work with the client and us to research the precise benefits that these intelligently designed green spaces can bring to a particular area, for example building insulation, employee attendance rates or an improvement in general human well-being.
Clients will then have some scientific data that will enable them to fully grasp the problems that green spaces can help them solve.
Research by Staffordshire University is already under way and scientists are conducting a study which is investigating how successfully carefully designed green spaces influence biodiversity, improve building insulation and capture microscopic pollutants, thereby improving air quality and human health.
The current research being completed at Staffordshire University will help to provide more information on how pollutants known as PM10s – particulate matter that is less than 10 microns in diameter – are absorbed by plants. The reduction of PM10 levels is a focus of policy for the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The three-year research study, which is in its final year, is being carried out by PhD student under the supervision of two Professors at the University.  A variety of sophisticated scientific techniques and instruments are being used to understand the nature of a green space’s interaction with particulate matter, including an environmental scanning electron microscope, which is used to establish the size of particles that are trapped by plants. Once complete, the research is due to be published in a number of international peer-reviewed journals.
Through an on-going partnership with the university, we hope we will bring similar scientific rigour to research into the other benefits of carefully planned and maintained green spaces.