Cover story

Living walls use plants to create

breathable and fresh air, as well as

supressing dust and reducing noise pollution

school pupils are breathing in air that breaches WHO pollution guidelines. In London, almost every school breaches the guidelines, according to DEFRA. That’s prompted some radical



St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Chiswick lies close to a major six-lane road. Air quality was so bad that the headteacher reduced playtimes due to the noticeable effect on pupil health. When the school was identified as one of the 50 most polluted in the capital, parents decided to act. In 2018, they formed the ‘Chiswick Oasis’ project to crowdfund for a living wall, winning support from celebrities such as Jeremy Paxman, Claudia Winkleman and Emma Thompson, as well as local businesses. The campaign raised more than £90,000 and received a further £32,000 from the Mayor of London’s Crowdfund London programme. Created by ANS Global and

officially opened by London mayor Sadiq Khan, the 126m-long living wall features more than 12,000 plants with air-purifying qualities, many of which are indigenous to the locality. ‘We realised the power that plants have in cleaning the air and bringing the rarely used playground space back to life,’ says parent Andrea

18 SPRING 2020 FundEd

action. Some schools are tackling the gas-guzzling school run by imposing car-free zones around their front gates. Others are literally turning their boundaries green by planting rows of trees or installing evergreen hedges and climbing plants to form a protective barrier. Such ‘green screens’ or ‘living walls’ can halve pollution levels by filtering and absorbing harmful pollutants, including carbon dioxide. Transport for London provides grants of tens of thousands of pounds to help schools install such screens. Living wall supplier ANS Global

Carnevali. ‘We are not only transforming one of the most polluted schools in London into one of the greenest, but we’re also creating a model for other schools to be inspired by.’ The wall has been designed to

require minimal maintenance and to thrive in the long term. ANS Global has also provided training to teachers and parents about how it works and what to do to help it thrive. The Chiswick Oasis project has also tackled indoor air quality by adding more plants, painting the school’s ground floor in air-purifying paint and installing air purifiers. As well as launching a ‘No Car Friday’ initiative, the school plans to create an edible vegetable garden. Crowdfunding efforts are continuing, with hopes of extending the living wall further.

(based at Aldingbourne Nurseries in Chichester) has launched a guide and competition to encourage schools to consider the benefits of green screens (see p13). ‘Living walls use plants to create breathable and fresh air, as well as suppressing dust and reducing noise pollution,’ says ANS MD Richard Silcock. ‘They also support biodiversity and local wildlife, and provide an interactive learning tool for children. Research has shown that just one square metre of vegetation can provide enough oxygen for a person for a year, which demonstrates the true power of plants in our environment.’

Directory Schools’ Energy Co-operative Brighton Energy Coop Salix Finance schoolsapplication@; 020 3102 6903 ANS Global Solar for Schools


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