There’s just something so satisfying about incorporating greenery into buildings. Maybe it’s the hippy in me but vertical forests and green roofs have great appeal if for no other reason than increasing our connection to nature within our urban environments.
Of course they also have myriad benefits from providing insulation and shading, thus reducing energy usage in buildings, to reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, helping stop flooding and even providing urban habitats for wildlife. Take the green roof on the Javits Center in New York. This 6.75 acres space is “home to 17 bird species, five bat species and 300,00 honeybees.”
This vertical forest on a building being constructed in Taiwan is set to feature 23,000 trees which will hopefully absorb 130 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
This proposed eco-neighbourhood in Belgium, to be constructed on the site of an old inustrial park, will feature there buildings with vertical forests and including balconies for growing fruit and vegetables!
In China, work is underway on a new ‘forest city‘ which will be home to 30,000 people plus 40,000 trees and one million plants which will produce 900 tonnes of oxygen a year and absorb 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Vertical forests, green roofs and design elements like food growing balconies may not solve all our environmental problems. They will however provide a valuable connection to the natural world within our cities and in our daily lives that can surely only increase the way we value it, an important step for ensuring environmentally sustainable business, attitudes, behaviours, design and policies.