Vertical forest wows Milan
Cape Town - An architect has created what some are calling the world's first vertical forest.
Among the urban sprawl of Milan, architect Stefano Boeri designed buildings with plants much larger than the typical garden ivy, the Creator's Project blog reported.
The buildings are several stories high and covered in lush greenery, contrasting sharply with Milan's usual appearance.
The two towers will provide roots for 900 trees, as well as plenty of shrubbery and other floral vegetation. Their footprint, when flattened, is equal to 10 000m² of forest.
As climate negotiators prepare to meet in Durban for the COP 17 conference, there will be fierce debates about what should be done to mitigate runaway climate change resulting from manmade global warming.
Trees are particularly good carbon absorbers, and recently, scientists have discovered that plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) 25% faster than thought.
Lisa Welp-Smith of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California and her team came up with a new method for measuring how much CO2 is absorbed and released by plants.
The team used oxygen isotope markers in CO2 and more than 30 years of data from a global network that analyses air samples to measure changes in greenhouse gases, pollution and other factors.
The global greenhouse gas emissions continues to creep up as economic activity increased, following a stall in 2008.
US energy department figures show the biggest jump ever in heat-trapping CO2 pumped into the atmosphere in 2010.
There is also a side benefit of the vertical forest: It attracts birds and insects which play a critical role in fertilising plants.
The world fashion capital has relatively little green space and the buildings should give a dramatic and refreshing view of the city where declining air quality has been blamed on increasing emissions.
The mild temperature range of the city should ensure that the environment in the building is sustainable and the irrigation of the forest is done through an extensive grey water system.
The buildings also employ solar power to limit its impact on energy use.
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