Earlier this year, Toronto suffered some severe flooding and city planner Jennifer Keesmat composed this great tweet:
Suddenly spending $ to maintain all of that not-so-sexy infrastructure and to plan for climate change seems wildly appealing. #TOflood
— jennifer keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) July 9, 2013
One of those programs she is referring to is the tower renewal program which helped energy conservation, local ecologies, and improve housing conditions. Toronto’s mayor ensures these programs don’t get funding.
Here in Toronto where we have a druggy mayor who hates the environment who also sat in an idling SUV during the flooding (idling is illegal in the city). The mayor has gone out of his way to ensure that Toronto treats the local environment worse than it did the year before. I mention this as a contrast to what is happening in England’s biggest city.
In London, they have a mayor who actually knows that climate change is happening and the city is doing something about it. London is no stranger to threat of flooding, indeed the Thames barrier’s lifetime has been reduced due to the increased pace of climate change. With most usable space already consumed, what is the city to do?
London has turned to constructing green walls! The walls absorb water that would otherwise contribute to flooding within the city by soaking up rainwater.
The wall captures rainwater from the roof of the hotel in dedicated storage tanks; the rainwater is then channeled slowly through the wall to nourish plants, simultaneously reducing surface water on the streets below. “The plants themselves will take up rain too, so the rain doesn’t fall on the street below,” says Beamont.
During the design process, Grant picked out native ferns, English ivy, geraniums, strawberry and primroses for the living wall, using the Royal Horticultural Society’s pollinators list as a guide. “My approach is to use native species in natural associations, however sometimes it’s not practicable because of problems with availability or a lack of visual interest or late flowering,” he says. “It’s still necessary to choose plants that are known to thrive in living walls, or are likely to thrive in living walls, and are suited to the aspect and microclimate.”