Ask any gardener what they think about moss, and you’re likely to get a bunch of exclamations in return.
Mosses are the enemy of the well-maintained lawn. Many of us have been awakened at night by those pesky green- or yellowish-green tufts between the grass. We wonder how we can stop them from ruining our lawns.
Although moss may seem like a villain to gardeners, they can actually be a superhero when it comes to absorbing air pollution. They could even be an important ally to combat climate change.
Peter Sanger, co-founder of Green City Solutions, explains that when we first started our pitches many years ago, we used the expression “we were like lawyers for Moss” “We wanted to improve its reputation, because so many people have it in their gardens and they don’t like it or have it on their roof, which is also not good.”
Sanger claims that mosses are one of the oldest land plants, with a history dating back to 450 million years. They have no common root structure and absorb all they need through their leaf surfaces.
Sanger says that mosses are an important ally in fighting global warming and air pollution because they feed on the pollutants in the atmosphere.
Some mosses use car exhaust ammonia as a nutrient. Others bind heavy metals or metabolize fine dust. All mosses are also small sponges. They also draw water from the air so they are able to absorb and store lots of moisture.
A series of active moss filter products has been developed by a German company. They can be used on urban facades or street furniture.
Street furniture and facades make use of the Internet of Things technology to regulate and maintain the moss. They take in warm, polluted air from the city and then press it through a moss matrix inside the furniture.
The sensors data are also displayed in real-time via an online dashboard. You can also access information about the environment and air quality.
Specially cultivated mosses can store as much as 20 times their weight in water, and then evaporate. Combining an active ventilation system with a thermostat, the ambient temperature can drop by as much as 4 degrees. This corresponds to a cooling power of up to 6.500 W.
Sanger believes that the combination of biology and technology has many benefits. The biggest benefit is that mosses are able to effectively digest fine dust particles unlike traditional air filters. These particles can remain in the moss filters for long periods of time. If mosses become too stressed, they can be exchanged and returned to Green City Solutions to regenerate before being sent again.
You will also notice a difference in the air quality and the pleasant scent of the forest when you live in hot and humid cities. Urban greening can have a positive impact on urban climate. People’s mental health may also be benefited.
He says, “We all know that 70 to 80% of the population lives in cities around the globe, and that number is only going up. 70% of carbon emissions come from cities. So 70% of any absorption or reduction of emissions should also take place in cities.”
He says that a nature-based solution such as an active moss filters is more visually pleasing than a “cold-steel machine”, and they perform better in comparison to other technically-based air purifiers.
He says, “The most important thing people need to understand is that air quality can be good for everyone.” It’s also extremely harmful economically for society.
It’s the same problem that plastic trash in our oceans. It’s something that nobody likes and everyone agrees it shouldn’t be there. It is hard to create a business case for solving it. That’s why we need new ways to make it attractive to invest in a city or company.