Today’s Solutions: June 15, 2024

Now that we are aware of the great environmental and health benefits of integrating green spaces in our cities, many urban areas are beginning to design new buildings with foliage in mind. What should we do, though, about the concrete buildings that already exist? 

Dutch startup Respyre has a solution: wrap them up in moss.

According to Respyre team pioneer Auke Bleij, moss is non-invasive to building facades (because they have rhizoids instead of roots), and since moss requires minimal maintenance and has a dense leaf system, its particularly good for urban environments. It’s “even graffiti resistant,” adds Bleij.

Moss purifies the air by converting CO2 to oxygen on top of removing other pollutants from water and air. It provides habitats where there would otherwise be inhospitable concrete and has cooling properties by shielding the surface from sunlight and through a process called evapotranspiration.

Though moss can be applied to existing buildings, Respyre is also working on “bioreceptive” concrete that encourages moss to grow even more abundantly. The team has already figured out how to make their process even more environmentally friendly by using recycled concrete to create bioreceptive concrete products. Their next goal is to figure out how to drive down the costs.

Right now, they’re mossing up concrete balconies on social housing apartments in Amsterdam’s Rivierenbuurt, and are collaborating with Dutch renewable firm Eneco on a project that will green the bases of the many wind turbines across the country. 

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