A greener code of construction

Opinion / Oct 18, 2023


With progressive London boroughs leading the way for urban greening by mandating green hoardings on construction sites across their boroughs, we discuss the value this presents, and the short and long term benefits this simple initiative can deliver.

Construction sites are not often welcome additions to cities or urban areas. Most local residents anticipate the finished building and often must endure the construction phase.

Traditionally, construction hoardings have been used as advertising mediums to get across the ambitions of the new development, in addition to their primary purpose of separating the public from building works and their potential hazards. Now, with increasing pressure on developers to ‘green’ cities and urban areas, living hoardings are rising in popularity.

Last year, Westminster City Council’s new Code of Construction Practice for developers and contractors included a new mandatory requirement for construction hoardings over 50 metres in length to be covered by planting. LB Tower Hamlets soon followed suit.

The move to using living hoardings carries with it a plethora of benefits including improving visual amenity, softening the streetscape to discourage postering and graffiti, reducing noise and, most vitally, creating a bridge for site biodiversity between pre-development and post-completion. Biodiversity in construction also contributes to the Considerate Constructors Scheme and BREEAM.

At Vertical Meadow, we have been collaborating closely with a range of contractors, developers and local authorities to deliver green hoardings and we are seeing demand continue to grow – there is a real need for nature to be incorporated into new developments, wherever possible.

“Developers and contractors working in specific boroughs really need to be aware that they are now obliged to green their hoardings. But beyond it being an obligation, it is simply good sense and they may also find that specifying a living hoarding on any project can really help achieve environmental targets. It can strengthen planning applications, particularly in urban areas, demonstrating to planners that the whole project from start to finish will have green credentials.”

Alistair Law, CEO at Vertical Meadow

When green hoardings are chosen it clearly demonstrates consideration to the community, which is important on many of today’s urban construction projects. The built environment and construction sector accounts for 38% of global carbon emissions. Green hoarding systems, such as our Vertical Meadow Wrap, produce 90% less embodied carbon than a traditional industry standard printed di-bond panel. They provide attractive visual screening, helps contain dust, and can reduce noise by up to 15dB, whilst creating something for the community to enjoy year-round, rather than seek to avoid. Biodiverse native plants and flowers are grown from seed in-place on a construction-friendly mat system. Within two to three weeks the first shoots appear, before growing into a verdant meadow.

Alistair also points out that using local species of plants is good for local wildlife:

“Using native wildflowers provides an additional stepping-stone for insects and birds to migrate across our cities. It provides stepping stones for birds, butterflies and insects between the flora that has to be removed in the demolition phase. Green hoardings are a simple but effective way to make our cities more sustainable and liveable. As more and more boroughs mandate their use, we can expect to see even more benefits in the years to come.”

You can find out more about our living hoardings here.

If you have a specific project in mind or have any questions, please get in touch.

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