It's a Mossy Business

It absorbs CO2, filters out pollution, supports wildlife and looks great. Now one Dutch startup is using moss to coat concrete buildings.


Auke Bleij holding up a moss covered panel
Auke Bleij of Respyre

Auke Bleij and his team at Respyre are pioneering the use of ‘bioreceptive’ concrete, which they say allows for the abundant growth of moss. With rhizoids instead of roots, moss is non-invasive to building facades, they say, and given its dense leaf system, is of potentially great benefit to urban environments.


Moss converts CO2 to oxygen and absorbs and removes other pollutants from water and air; boosts biodiversity by providing habitat on otherwise bare concrete surfaces; and retains water and cools via evapotranspiration and by shielding the surface from sunlight.


Furthermore, applying the mossy concrete actually helps protect underlying walls or surfaces against weathering, effectively extending their lifetime, Respyre claims.


Four storey office building covered in green moss
Building covered in moss

It can be applied to existing structures, or concrete elements can be produced to be bioreceptive from the start.


Though it’s early days for the company, the Respyre team has already devised a way to use recycled concrete to create the product, and is now focused on finessing it and driving down costs.


They’re currently greening concrete balconies on social housing apartments in Amsterdam’s Rivierenbuurt, as well as collaborating with Dutch renewable firm Eneco to work out how to green the bases of wind turbines.


With new metropolitan buildings around the world frequently incorporating trees and hanging green walls, it looks like moss could be a positive addition to the urban landscape too - both aesthetically and ecologically.

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