It's a recyclable, living, breathing air filter that can be set up in cities, measuring pollution types and levels, while actively clearning the air through a careful mix of plants that work as well as a small forest. The structure is designed for the space it will occupy, with different woods and plants for every urban environment, and measures four metres tall by three metres wide, with a 60cm base required for the freestanding unit.
The biotech start-up behind the technology, Green City Solutions, makes use of a variety of plants that offer superior air filtering, including speciality mosses and lichens. The key, according to the four co-founders of the company, is to find planets that have a comparitively large leaf surface, which enables the plants to absorb a higher rater of pollutants.
The installation is self-actuating via sophistiated controls and monitoring. The water supply is monitored and plants are watered via captured rainfall from a tank also containing nutrients, with the water pumped is around the growing areas using power generated by solar panels. Indoor setups can have their tanks refilled for watering, still requiring far less maintenance than a tree. Each unit is able to capture around 240 tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to the company.
In addition, the CityTree can provide power for WiFi hotspots, e-bike charging stations, or transport or tourist information.
Green City Solutions receive all captured data for monitoring environmental data, and real-time performance of the CityTree, making it a true combination of the Internet of Things and green living.
The company was a finalist in the 2017 Chivas Venture prize, won the Green Alley Award in 2016, was included in the European Forbes list for sustainable world improvers under 30 in the Social Entrepreneurs category, and has received funding from the German government. Originally based in Dresden, the company has moved to the Euref Campus in Berlin's Schöneberg district.
CityTrees have been installed across cities in Europe, from the company's home city of Dresden to Oslo, Paris, Hong Kong, Budapest, Glasgow, and more, with each as effective as 275 trees, using 99 per cent less space, and at just five per cent of the cost.