Vertical Gardens in Scandinavia
A solution to increase the green area factor in urban areas
Since the start, Greenworks has focused on the advantages of plants and what effects it has on the environment we live in. It all started with the Moving Hedge in 2009 as a room divider with plants. Now Greenworks has evolved further with competences in design and landscape engineering. Greenworks have been involved in the construction of many outdoor projects already and have been the main contractor in Stockholm city project with the client Vasakronan. We are now at the final planning phase of a 300 sqm outdoor living project at Mobilia in Malmö, owned by Atrium Ljungberg, which will be installed spring 2020. To make it sustainable, with all combined experience at hand, we will create an all year around Various vertical garden with low maintenance requirements.
We believe that the interest and need for vertical gardens in Scandinavia will increase since the green land areas in our cities have declined steadily since 1970. The authorities in Sweden have regulations with the intention to change this negative trend. The last decade a planning tool, green area factor for urban spaces (GYF) has been created to strengthen the city’s green structure. In Stockholm, this planning instrument will be used in all new urban construction projects. To successfully meet this requirement and change the negative trend, living walls is a good solution when various interest for the land-based green areas are high. Green areas in the city have several positive effects, see below.
Human health and well-being
Exposure to nature reduces stress, anger, fear, increases pleasant feelings and makes us more connected to each other and the outside world. There is a lot of research that shows that many parts of our lives can be improved with the help of nature and vegetation, for example, how quickly patients recover after being hospitalized, and how nature can increase life satisfaction in general.
The importance of including biodiversity in the planning phase of our cities is of greater importance now that the number of people in an urban environment is higher than ever before. Both for achieving set environmental goals and because of the ecosystem services that we are dependent on, in turn, depend on biodiversity. For example, pollination, maintaining insect populations, food production, air cleaning, regulating climate and our general well-being.
According to a comprehensive study, the most important factors to increase the biodiversity in urban areas, are the area of the green spaces, the variation of the vegetation and the green corridors between the green areas.
Insufficient connection between the green areas is common in urban areas, and living walls can be a good solution to create the green corridors that are needed for biodiversity.
Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. According to the World Health Organization, the most common outdoor air pollutants that have been proven to be harmful are particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) and (PM 10 ), ozone (O 3 ), nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ), sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) ) and carbon monoxide (CO).
Despite generally improved air quality in urban areas in the developed world, not all environmental quality standards are met. Fortunately various studies have shown that plants can purify the air from the fixed majority of air pollutants, including the ones mentioned above.Fortunately, various studies have shown that plants can purify the air from the fixed majority of air pollutants, including the ones mentioned above.
Noise and poor sound environment are a growing problem in the city. Noise increases with hard surfaces while ”soft surfaces” with vegetation have a dampening effect. The magnitude of the effect of the greenery in the individual case depends on many different factors, but at increasing the proportion of green ground surfaces, green walls and green roofs, noise levels can be reduced by several decibels.
The stormwater management in our cities is not dimensioned to handle large downpours, which is becoming more common with climate change. After the large flood in Copenhagen 2011, which cost the city multi-billion amounts, they are now investing in something called local disposal or stormwater (LOD). This is something we also do in Sweden but not on the same scale as in Copenhagen. LOD is delaying and / or storing the water locally, due to plant beds and vegetation, to relieve the stormwater drain systems. Plant walls can act as LOD and delay the stormwater path during extreme downpours.drainsystem. Plant walls can act as LOD and delay the stormwater path during extreme downpours.
Temperature and relative humidity
The city’s green areas and trees have important climate-regulating functions. More and stronger heat waves mean increased health risks, especially for sick, elderly and young children. It is therefore important to work with vegetation that lowers air and radiation temperatures and increases the relative humidity in the summer.
Carbon dioxide is one of the most common greenhouse gases that increase global warming. By increasing the number of plants in the city that binds carbon dioxide, we reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A study has shown that, for example, all the roof tops in a city of Detroit’s size were covered with green vegetation, they could take up all carbon dioxide from about 10,000 petrol-powered cars.