It’s no secret that London’s air is grimy as hell. Within just one month, “the Big Smoke” reached its air pollution limit set by the EU for the whole of 2018. But a novel piece of urban furniture hopes to serve as a footsoldier in the capital’s big battle to "go green".
Germany-based tech startup Green City Solutions has recently “planted” a CityTree outside the pubs and organic supermarkets of Glasshouse Street in London, a short walk from the notoriously busy Piccadilly Circus. It’s a kind of hybrid between a city bench, a pollution-sucking filter, and an environment-tracking smart device.
It works using a combination of plants and mosses that naturally remove dust, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone gases from the surrounding air. It’s also hooked up to the “Internet of things”, providing data on pollution levels, soil humidity, air temperature, and water quality. On top of all this, it’s been designed to be resistant to vandalism and features solar panels that satisfy all of its electricity demands.
Although only small, this device claims to have the same benefit of up to 275 real trees by filtering the air of up to 240 tonnes (265 tons) of carbon dioxide per year, plus all the other nasty fine-matter particulates and nitrogen dioxide found in inner-city pollution.
While this bench alone is not going to address all of London’s wheezy woes, it serves as a great example of how design and technology are taking up the challenge of solving our planet’s environmental problems.
“There is no simple solution, so alongside our work to reduce carbon emissions from our buildings and reduce the number of vehicles on our roads, we want to test and learn from new technology,” James Cooksey, Director of Central London at The Crown Estate, said in a statement.
London is just the latest city to have its own CityTree. So far the startup has installed over 20 CityTrees in urban areas, including Berlin, Oslo, Paris, Drammen in Norway, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Hong Kong, as well as Newcastle in the north of the UK.
“Our ultimate goal is to incorporate technology from the CityTree into existing buildings," Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions, told CNN last year.
"We dream of creating a climate infrastructure so we can regulate what kind of air and also what kind of temperature we have in a city."