Multiplex partnered with researchers from the University of Glasgow to conduct a trial of green screens at the site of the new James McCune Smith Learning Hub on the University’s Gilmorehill campus.
The trial evaluated how green screens compare to traditional construction hoarding in terms of their ability to capture pollutants and attenuate runoff. The screens were made from a steel mesh with densely woven climbing plants affixed to the hoarding and the installation of associated monitoring equipment. To support the research, as well as access to the site Multiplex also provided labour and materials including the hoarding and green screen units.
“Our research aims to find opportunities to integrate the natural environment into the built environment in the form of urban greening and vertical greening systems. We hope that the research will have implications for the way that we design, construct and operate urban infrastructure to the shared benefit of people and planet. We’re extremely grateful to Multiplex for supporting our research to date and look forward to our continued work with them.”
Neil Jackson, PhD Researcher (University of Glasgow)
The project itself is considered unique for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, the fact that there are no existing studies considering the impact green screens may have on rainfall runoff and thus flood risk and it is also the first green screen project to use SEM (scanning electron microscopy) measurements.
From the data analysis, the results indicate a significant improvement both in terms of air quality and runoff. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) counts were found to be lower in front of green screens when compared to the plywood control screens. Whilst the effect varied the largest reductions (up to 40% mean reduction) were seen during periods with the highest particle counts, further demonstrating the screens effectiveness as particulate buffers during high pollution events. With air quality being an important environmental and occupational health risk, the results show that green screens could be one tool to mitigate against the potentially damaging impacts of construction activities. To further demonstrate our commitment in tackling this issue Multiplex have since become signatories of the IOSH No Time to Lose campaign which aims to tackle the often hidden health related risks of construction.
Similar results were also observed for rainfall runoff, with reductions of up to 35%. The highest reductions were again posted during the highest rainfall events.
To put the results of the research into a broader context, the project has also provided scientific rigour to a solution that has the potential to influence a range of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG 3 (Good Health & Well-being) and SDG 13 (Climate Action) by using nature-based technologies.