Moss-growing concrete absorbs CO2, insulates and is also a vertical garden



Sustainability has always been a game of catch up. The current energy production and construction trends mean that sustainability researchers have to come up with clever ways to lower emissions.

Researchers at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona have found a creative solution to a long-established emissions problem. They discovered how to cleverly build megastructures with a biological concrete that lowers CO2, regulates heat and is totally eye catching. Its surface grows mosses, lichens, fungi and other biological organisms.

Researchers at UPC have found a way to build structures with biological concrete, which allows biological organisms to grow on it, lowering CO2 in the air.

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Buildings with this concrete can—in regions with a calm mediterranean climate—absorb CO2 and release oxygen with micro-algae and the other “pigmented microorganisms” that coat it. These vertical gardens boast aesthetic appeal, but the biological concrete’s beauty also lies in its clever design.

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The concrete works in layers. The top layer absorbs and stores rainwater and grows the microorganisms underneath. A final layer of the concrete repels water to keep the internal structure safe. The top can also absorb solar radiation, which insulates the building and regulates temperatures for the people inside.

While concrete has high pH levels that don’t allow plants to grow, this one is made more acidic, which lowers the pH to levels safer for growth.

Layers in the concrete absorb, store, and repel water at different levels, allowing for microorganisms to grow but also keep the structure of the concrete solid.

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UPC’s website states that the researchers had bigger plans for the design. They say, “a further aim is that the appearance of the façades constructed with the new material should evolve over time, showing changes of colour according to the time of year.”

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