With the UN Climate Action Summit as backdrop, New York City and Access Cities partnered in finding the two most innovative solutions to pressing climate challenges. The winners proposed plants and paint as effective solutions.
Moving on the agenda of securing livable cities in a time of climate change and pollution, New York City and the initiative Access Cities have pointed to two of the most innovative solutions by companies. Specifically, the solutions are presenting methods of increasing air quality and reducing urban heat in the city of New York. The two innovative solutions were: the company Gaia Technologies that seeks to improve air quality by installing plants on surface areas throughout New York City – and Airlite, a technological paint which reduces urban heat and air pollution. By painting the exterior of buildings, Airlite can reduce the energy consumption of air conditioners thus lowering their CO2 emissions.
The solutions were part of an open call inviting international companies to give their best bid on how to curb this challenges that yearly cost several hundred lives.
We’re really thrilled to have won. There’s much blood, sweat and tears that went into this. Everybody here could have won and you would need every idea to actually solve the issue of urban heat island effect.Paul Mankiewicz, founding partner at Gaia Technologies.
The two winners of the innovation call were announced yesterday in New York during an event, where eight finalists delivered their finale pitch. The event aimed at not only announcing winners of the call, but equally establishing stronger ties between Danish and American companies, while highlighting some of the most innovative solutions to the most pressing problems in cities.
Air quality improved by plants on roofs
The winner in the air quality track Gaia Technology presented their solution called Leaf Island Effect. The solutions is an ecological design and installation in urban landscapes targeting both the urban heat island effect and air pollution.
Two concepts are essential as to why the solution is effective. Firstly, only multilayered plants, supplied with sufficient water are capable of reducing the urban body temperature effectively, while a healthy volume area of well-developed plants effectively reduces air pollution. Secondly, cities offers immense surface area on roofs, blank vertical walls, and public/streets-side real estate. The plan for New York City is utilizing the surface areas to increase vegetation to improve air quality.
Painting buildings to curb overheating in urban areas
The second winner was Airlite, who presented a technological paint reducing urban heat and air pollution. By painting the exterior of builidings, Airlite aims to reduce the energy consumption of air conditioners thus lowering their CO2 emissions. This in effect means that the excess heat from air conditioners is also reduced.
In tests, the electricity used for air condition units was reduced by 28.66 per cent, when the Airlite paint was used. Activated by light, Airlite reduces major air pollutants like NOx by up to 88.8 per cent in closed environments and up to 50 per cent in outdoors environments.
The City of New York and Access Cities have partnered for the Open Innovation Call on Air Quality and Urban Heat Island Effect. Over the summer of 2019, more than 40 companies have applied for the open innovation call. The ultimate goal of the challenge was to identify and pilot the most promising solution within the City in the hopes that it can improve upon the current state of air quality and/or urban heat vulnerability.
Access Cities is an international, public-private project, which aims to strengthen sustainable urban development in five project cities: New York City, Singapore, Munich and the Danish cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus. The project connects actors working with sustainable urban development in the pursuit of game-changing solutions to common issues confronting cities. Access Cities will develop innovative, viable and scalable responses to the most pressing sustainability challenges faced by global city hubs today and tomorrow – in collaboration and via the exchange of documented learnings within the sustainability space.