Green walls and facades may look pretty but do they really improve cities? Apparently they do according to a recent report from ARUP that found increased vegetation in cities improves air quality, reduces energy consumption and even boost the mental wellbeing of city dwellers.

With urban density increasing and population growth driving more people to live in cities, green areas within many cities are becoming scarcer and scarcer.

The report suggests that this problem can be at least partially alleviated by creating green areas on walls and the rooves of buildings instead of on the ground. By making use of around 20-25% of every building for greenery, the authors of the report believe that the microclimate within cities could be greatly improved and noise from traffic could also be reduced.

The report found that there are plenty of benefits to greening up our cities, including:

  • Cleaner air as plants filter out many of the pollutants that are commonly found in city air. The report found that there was the potential for a reduction in concentrations of particulate matter in the air of between 10 and 20%.
  • Reduced noise as plants act as an absorber for traffic sounds and other noise. According to the report, noise levels were reduced by up to 10dB. This was mostly concerning ambient noise, and the reduction was better further away from the noise source.
  • Greater stormwater management due to reduced surface runoff from buildings. This could potentially help reduce flooding after heavy rainfall in cities, a problem that many urban areas struggle with.
    Reductions in urban heat caused by a high level of concrete in an area. The study showed potential temperature reductions of up to 10 degrees in densely populated areas.
  • Natural shading and insulation for buildings leading to lower energy consumption. This has the potential to help people save money on their energy costs and reduce the carbon footprint of many cities.

One of the main benefits discussed in the report was the social impact and the general improvement in wellbeing that people experience when they are surrounded by nature. The positive effect of nature on our mental and emotional wellbeing has been well documented in recent times and being surrounded by greenery can greatly improve the quality of life of those living in densely populated areas.

Using green technology has a huge number of benefits for cities and those who live and work in them. With so many benefits on offer, it’s no wonder that more and more cities around the world are starting to consider green walls and green envelopes in their overall design.