Air Clean Up

  • What is a CityTree?

What is a CityTree?

Jul 22 2017 Read 1484 Times

Cities all around the world are increasing in population every day. At the same time, the World Health Organisation recently said that 80% of all urban dwellers are exposed to dangerous levels of contaminants, while that percentage rises to 90% inside the United Kingdom.

With that in mind, environmental startup Green City Solutions have come up with an ingenious way to address the problem of urban pollution: the CityTree. This innovative air filter harnesses the natural power of plants to absorb the same amount of contaminants as 275 trees in only 1% of the space.

Nature and science working in tandem

The absorptive potential of plants and trees has long been viewed as a partial solution to urban pollution. In fact, a recent study suggested that planting trees is the most cost effective way of tackling the problem, with the idea coming in at as much as 100 times cheaper than other methods considered.

Now, the four founders of Green City Solutions (a horticulturalist, an IT specialist, an architect and a mechanical engineer) have come up with a new idea to multiply those beneficial effects at a fraction of the cost. The CityTree capitalises on plants such as lichen and moss, which are adept at filtering airwaves, and combines these with specially designed air vents to speed up the process.

Finally, the Trees also collect important information about the quality of air in areas where they are employed, thus allowing the company to learn and develop over time.   

Spreading across Europe

The company has its headquarters in Germany and has overseen the installation of CityTrees in six locations around the country. Additionally, there are also CityTrees in Macedonia, Norway and Belgium, including one in the capital of European legislation, Brussels.

“It’s my favourite CityTree,” confides Zhengliang Wu, the IT specialist in the company. “It’s planted at a very popular spot and it’s very symbolic because it’s where the EU decision makers are sitting.”

The UK also recently welcomed two CityTrees to Glasgow. One sits near Buchanan Bus Station, while the other enjoys a prime location next to the cone-topped statue of Wellington outside of the Gallery of Modern Art.

The increasing popularity of the CityTrees highlights the importance of flexibility when it comes to solving air pollution abatement problems, as well as the role that technology can play in enhancing the power of nature.

In line for a prize?

Green City Solutions come from humble beginnings, earning initial aid from an individual bank loan and the German government. The ambition of their vision has seen them claim two smaller European prize funds, as well as qualification for the Chivas Venture competition. If successful, Wu and his colleagues would be the recipients of $1m USD.

However, they’ll face stiff competition from the likes of the British company Olio, which diverts supermarket food designated for the landfill to needy members of the community. There’s also Malaysian-based FOLO Farms, which aims to reduce food waste by turning it into organic soil compost, as well as the Nigerian outfit Recycle Points which encourages reuse and recycling among poorer members of the community.

Whether or not CityTrees wins the Chivas jackpot, the very existence of the competition – and of such worthy competitors – spells good news for the future of Mother Earth.     

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