Northumbrian Water Group (NWG) has been working on the plans since July 2017, when it held its first ever NWG Innovation Festival, working with a range of partners to identify ways it can tackle a wide range of social and environmental problems.
The company reached an agreement with Newcastle City Council to site the 'tree' at the Haymarket, close to the city's bus interchange and busy main roads.
The moss cultures involved in the tree have the ability to filter certain pollutants, by binding them to the leaf surface and then integrating them permanently into their own biomass. This makes them ideal air purifiers. The moss is built into the Moss Tree structure, which provides the water - largely harvested from the rain - and the shade the moss needs to survive, creating an intelligent combination of technology and nature.
The results achieved will be made available for universities and other bodies on an ongoing basis, to feed into their own research on tackling pollution. Built-in sensors will gather information on pollution including Nitrogen Oxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and Carbon Dioxide, as well as monitoring air humidity, temperature and rainfall.
Phil James, Senior Lecturer in Geographical Information Science at Newcastle University, said: "Newcastle's Urban Observatory is delighted to be working with partners such as Northumbrian Water to understand how urban sensing can improve the lives of citizens. Cities have many stakeholders and comprehensive understanding requires the pooling of data resources in an open and structured fashion.
"The Newcastle Urban Observatory is the largest deployment of urban sensing in the UK. We currently store more than 700 million data points with 2 million added daily from over 500 sensors. The Urban Observatory, as well as deploying our own sensors, works in partnership with many city stakeholders and citizens to integrate data from different sources to provide a baseline of information to enable data driven evidence for change."
Launching on Glasshouse Street, just off Piccadilly Circus, CityTree has been brought to London by The Crown Estate, with the support of Westminster City Council, and cleantech company Evergen Systems, the exclusive UK supplier of CityTree.
Claimed to deliver 275 times the air cleaning capability of a single tree, CityTree is a technology which takes just 1% of the space that would be needed to achieve the same results using real trees.
CityTree combines mosses, which are naturally powerful in absorbing pollution and particulates, and plants, which provide the shade that mosses need to thrive in an urban environment. The CityTree also has built-in watering and IoT monitoring, which maintains and measures the performance of the living structure.
The London trial will see CityTree tested on the streets of the West End, and comes following successful launches in cities across Europe including Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Oslo.
Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Sport and Community at Westminster City Council said: "It will be fascinating to see what impact The CityTree has on pollution in the local area. This is just one example of the new technology we want to test across Westminster. Air quality is the number one concern for our residents and with over a million people moving into and travelling to our neighbourhoods each day it is crucial that we make more strides to clean up our air and tackle poor air quality for residents and visitors alike."
James Cooksey, Director for Central London, The Crown Estate, adds: "There is no simple solution, so alongside our work to reduce carbon emissions from our buildings and reduce the number of vehicles on our roads, we want to test and learn from new technology.
"That's why we're delighted to be launching the first CityTree in London with the support of Westminster City Council and Evergen. Its arrival in London is testament to the power of partnership, and it is partnerships like this which will play a vital role in tackling pollution in our city in the future."
Northumbrian Water Group
Geographical Information Science at Newcastle University