The UK is obliged to meet tough EU standards on air quality and recently came close to being fined £300 million for breaching PM10 particulates in the air. One solution being adopted by Transport for London (TfL) through its Clean Air Fund is to invest in green infrastructure such as planting trees. This 200 square metre green wall on the side of Edgware Road tube station and near the congested Marylebone Flyover filters pollution from the air by removing PM10 particulate matter. Planted with 15 different species, it is being monitored by researchers at Imperial College London as part of a project to identify plants best suited to the task of tackling air pollution. Such ecosystem services are a cost-effective solution compared to mechanical air scrubbers and can also increase biodiversity. Personally, I found the striking textures and patterns in this living wall to be much more relaxing compared to staring at yet another billboard advertising something I neither want nor need.
Other green walls are now popping up across London such as at Kings Cross Central. Green roofs are another form of green infrastructure that are gaining more attention. Such roofs provide benefits such as absorbing rainwater, reducing storm-water run-off, providing habitat for wildlife, increasing insulation, and helping lower air temperatures in urban areas due to the “heat island effect”.
Green wall – Tfl website