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How Nature Based Climate Tech Can Save Our Future Cities.

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Renderings created by Zauben for a 2,000 net-zero affordable housing projects that is estimated to absorb more than 167 tons of Co2 over 25 year period.

In recent years, research led by the EPA has uncovered the benefits of nature based climate tech, and the results give future cities a roadmap to reimagining how we can co-exist with nature and fight against climate change.

Green building policies and city-wide mandates are spreading across Europe and the U.S to implement living architecture to help offset carbon, improve energy savings, retrofit buildings, and prevent over-flooding in urban areas.

Let's explore how nature-based climate technologies will green our future and transform our cities.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Photo credit by Zauben.

According to a study of temperatures worldwide, the average temperature on our Earth has risen by at least 1.1° C (1.9° F) since 1880. What is more alarming, however, is the fact that the majority of this warming has happened since the mid-1970s, at a rate of approximately 0.15 to 0.20°C every 10 years.

This rapid warming within the last few decades can be attributed to a predominance of greenhouse gas effects caused by urbanization. The built environment is a primary contributor to climate change and is responsible for 30 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, a rise in building construction is destroying the world’s biodiverse ecosystems. This, in turn, increases the emission of carbon dioxide, which is a primary greenhouse gas. According to the Intergovernmental Science and Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, there is a clear connection between low biodiversity and climate change.

As cities get larger and the need for housing grows, the area available for greenery becomes increasingly limited. While an increase in parks or nature reserves within these urban areas is proving difficult, living walls are being favored as an effective and space-efficient solution.

This is because the plants in a living wall absorb and store carbon dioxide in vegetation and soils without sacrificing valuable ground space. This is known as carbon sequestration. In doing so, they can significantly reduce this primary greenhouse gas, along with the severity of the greenhouse gas effect.

ESG Platform that estimates energy savings and carbon absorption from Zauben's living architecture products and smart building technology.

Just 1m2 of living wall can absorb up to 2kg of carbon dioxide per year. An entire tree can absorb around just 5.5kg of carbon dioxide each year. The plants in living walls also remove harmful toxins from the air, such as nitrogen dioxide.

Considering living walls can span up to tens of meters when installed on the façade of a building, it’s easy to see just how beneficial they can be at alleviating greenhouse gases and improving global air quality when placed within cities all over the world.

Lessening the Urban Heat Island Effect

Project for the world's tallest living wall in Dallas TX designed by Zauben and SCB architects.

Another area where global warming is being experienced is within urban heat islands. These heat islands exist in urbanized regions that have hotter temperatures than their surrounding regions. This is due to the fact that buildings, roads, and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit more heat from the sun than natural environments such as forests and bodies of water. Additionally, the heat produced by human activity within these spaces is confined in narrow roads and concrete structures.

As a result, daytime temperatures in urban areas are 1-7°F higher than those in rural regions. These raised temperatures increase the energy required to cool the inside of buildings. Additionally, cooling building interiors raises the climatic temperature over time, therefore compounding the problem.

Thankfully, living walls can relieve the vicious cycle of the urban heat island effect. The plants within a living wall use a process known as evapotranspiration to reduce urban temperatures naturally and consistently. Evapotranspiration encompasses both transpiration and evaporation processes.