Air Clean Up

  • What Are Green Lamp Posts?

What Are Green Lamp Posts?

Jul 17 2019 Read 413 Times

A horticultural environmentalist company has teamed up with one of the UK’s foremost universities to create a novel solution to the country’s air quality problem: the green lamp post. Otherwise known as the Smart Pillar, this ingenious invention fits around existing lamp posts and houses plants chosen specifically for their pollution-absorbing and biodiversity-encouraging properties.

It’s hoped that mass deployment of these green innovations can help clean up airways all across the country, which currently stand at abysmal levels. The situation is particularly bad in the national capital, with Public Health England estimating that 7% of all deaths in London can be directly attributed to continual exposure to high levels of air pollution.

Simple but effective

The Smart Pillar has been designed by Scotscape in conjunction with Greenwich University and consists of a green sleeve which fits snugly around the body of the lamp post and has space for holding all kinds of different plants. Its makers say there are three varieties of the product on offer.

The “biodiversity blend” provides food for both insects and birds all through the calendar year, while the “flower tower blend” comprises flowering plants of vivid colours which liven up the city’s sometimes drab aspect and aims to boost mental wellbeing. Finally, and most pointedly for air quality, the “pollution relief blend” houses box, ivy and lamb’s ear (among others) to extract harmful contaminants from the air and clean up pollution.

Some of the greatest advantages of the pillars are the ease of their assembly and the minimal maintenance they require. Equipped with a solar-powered irrigation network that recirculates water, there is little to no upkeep needed to keep these eco-friendly solutions functional for the foreseeable future.

Feasible or fanciful?

Given that last year’s Air Quality and Emissions (AQE) event was the busiest and best attended show in 15 years, it’s clear that public appetite for improving the state of Britain’s airways is alive and well. With regards to the political will to do so, there is less encouraging news; the most recent Clean Air Strategy from the government came under significant fire from critics and environmentalists, who say it doesn’t go far or specific enough to provide a tangible solution to the ongoing problem.

For those reasons, innovative solutions from private companies such as the Smart Pillar could be the key to unlocking the problem. Although the idea doesn’t sound like it might make a huge difference on its own, the cumulative effect of converting all of Britain’s millions of lamp posts (there are over 14,000 in Westminster alone) could be incredible. As such, it’s certainly an avenue worth pursuing. The trial of the project in Belgravia (scheduled to coincide with London Climate Week at the beginning of this month) should provide further answers as to how viable a solution it really is.

Of course, the idea of using “living walls” or vertical green spaces to combat area pollution is, in and of itself, not a new one. Patrick Blanc, a renowned botanist and designer from France, has been cultivating plants vertically for decades, while a more recent innovation is the CityTree, a powerful biofilter for urban environments. Green lamp posts hope to do something similar, but on a simpler and much more widespread scale.

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