The problem of sweltering city streets and sidewalks could soon be addressed by BioShade, a company that says it can use living plants to create cooling shade structures and rooftop systems.
As the EPA explains, buildings and roads are made of materials that absorb sunlight and radiate heat. In heavily populated areas like cities, most of the ground is covered with pavement or buildings that warm up the area around them. This creates “heat islands,” which the EPA says can be up to 7 degrees hotter than surrounding areas during the day and up to 5 degrees hotter at night.
Not only is this uncomfortable for residents, but also the EPA points out that it puts more strain on air conditioning systems. That means higher electric bills for individuals and businesses and more pollution thanks to the extra energy being generated and used.
Plants are an ideal solution to this problem, according to the EPA. They absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide. At the same time, they create a cooling shade and can draw up water from the earth and release it into the air, further cooling their surroundings.
BioShade wants to harness this power to cool cities down using the minimum amount of water and energy. To do that, it created specially designed shade structures with plants growing on top. The company created its prototype in 2020 and began its pilot project in Tel Aviv in 2022.
BioShade’s shade structures rely on hydroponics — a system in which plants grow in a wet material like sand or gravel instead of soil. According to BioShade, its system uses 80% less water than growing plants with soil irrigation and allows plants to grow twice as fast, all while supplying its own energy needs with solar power.
Meanwhile, it creates a comfortable shade area for the building or pavement below. BioShade claims it can reduce a building’s cooling expenses by up to 27%. At the same time, the plants naturally purify the air, creating a cooler, cleaner, and more comfortable city environment.
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