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Moss Growing Concrete Absorbs CO2, Insulates, and is a Vertical Garden

It is now possible to construct a building that will naturally grow vegetation without destroying the integrity of the structure. Moss covered walls are beautiful, but almost everyone knows that moss will slowly destroy walls. Now that is no longer a problem. The material is developed by The Structural Technology Group of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, BarcelonaTech (UPC). “The Structural Technology Group has developed and patented a type of biological concrete that supports the natural, accelerated growth of pigmented organisms. The material, which has been designed for the façades of buildings or other constructions in Mediterranean climates, offers environmental, thermal and aesthetic advantages over other similar construction solutions.” (UPC)

This special concrete promotes the growth of certain types of vegetation. This vegetation provides insulation.

image (2) UPC “The innovative feature of this new (vertical multilayer) concrete is that it acts as a natural biological support for the growth and development of certain biological organisms, to be specific, certain families of microalgae, fungi, lichens and mosses.” (UPC) Within a year, the building should be covered with vegetation that will change colour throughout the year. Many people believe this will be aesthetically pleasing and I, for one, agree. However, in order to insure that the concrete will last and vegetation will grow, some specific changes had to be made to the makeup of conventional concrete. The natural pH of concrete was made to have a pH of around 8 which is the ideal pH for vegetation growth. image (1) UPC

The concrete was made of three distinctive layers:

  • The result obtained is a multilayer element in the form of a panel that, in addition to a structural layer, consists of three other layers: the first of these is a waterproofing layer situated on top of the structural layer, protecting the latter from possible damage caused by water seeping through.
  • The next layer is the biological layer, which supports colonisation and allows water to accumulate inside it. It acts as an internal microstructure, aiding retention and expelling moisture; since it has the capacity to capture and store rainwater, this layer facilitates the development of biological organisms.
  • The final layer is a discontinuous coating layer with a reverse waterproofing function. This layer permits the entry of rainwater and prevents it from escaping; in this way, the outflow of water is redirected to where it is aimed to obtain biological growth. (UPC)

This moss covered building material also promotes CO2 reduction.

image UPC "From an environmental perspective, the new concrete absorbs and, therefore, reduces atmospheric CO2, thanks to its biological coating. At the same time, it has the capacity to capture solar radiation, making it possible to regulate thermal conductivity inside the buildings depending on the temperature reached. The biological concrete acts not only as an insulating material and a thermal regulator, but also as an ornamental alternative. Since it can be used to decorate the façade of buildings or the surface of constructions with different finishes and shades of colour; it has been designed for the colonisation of certain areas with a variety of colours, without the need to cover an entire surface." (UPC)

Renovation-wise, this is potentially the easiest material to use in renovations or new construction that desire a greener feeling.

"Unlike the currently vegetated façade and vertical garden systems, the new material supports biological growth on its own surface; therefore, complex supporting structures are not required, and it is possible to choose the area of the façade to which the biological growth is to be applied." (UPC)

Talk about a cool new building alternative. I love vegetation covered walls and this stuff makes it possible without all the hassle.