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Northumbrian Water to plant moss trees to combat pollution

Pollution-absorbing moss trees could be used to help make towns and cities healthier places to live and work, as part of a new pilot project being carried out by Northumbrian Water.

The idea was brought forward at the water group’s NWG Innovation Festival, which took place last month and the utility firm is working with partners to identify a suitable site to plant some of the trees in the north east for a pilot scheme.

This will allow Northumbrian Water and other organisations to learn more and to understand how further trees can be used elsewhere.

‘The idea of using moss trees to help reduce pollution is one that is full of potential and we are keen to explore just how much of a difference they can make,’ said Luke Dennis, a technical adviser at Northumbrian Water.

‘Some people who have used them claim that one installation can have multiple benefits such as binding nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide; reduce rainfall run off whilst also increasing biodiversity.

‘The manufacturer of the moss trees states that these benefits are equivalent to 275 normal trees – we’ll be investigating all claims with our partners whilst greening our local area – a real win-win,’ he added.

Following the innovation festival, Northumbrian Water is also working to put in place a new text messaging or mobile app system that encourages car sharing and working from home or alternative locations, to help save time and money, while also making carbon savings and reduce traffic.

During the week-long event, a five-day ‘sprint’ saw around 50 people focusing on the issue of green cities, taking it from an outline of the problem to ideas that can be developed. Sprints apply leading design thinking techniques to real world issues.

The sprint, entitled ‘How green is your city? What can businesses do to improve the environment in the north east?’ was one of six such activities carried out at the same time at the festival, which was supported by IBM, Microsoft, Ordnance Survey, BT, CGI Group and Reece Innovation.

Clive Surman-Wells, operational solutions manager at Northumbrian Water Group, said: ‘We really wanted to look for ideas that are not only deliverable by ourselves, in partnership with the many other organisations that got involved with the NWG Innovation Festival, but which would inspire others to play a role in improving the environment.

‘We think, with the proposal to install moss trees and the text messaging and app system to encourage more thoughtful travel planning, that we have come up with ideas that can be making a real difference within months.’

Photo credit: Green City Solutions

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