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Green ivy walls improve air quality at Tower Hamlets schools

Green screen group photo social

(L-R) Isabella Luke and Nicoletta Vianello, from Tower Hamlets Council Pollution Team; Sasha Sullivan, Head of school – Brunton Place; Cllr Kabir Hussain, Lisa Payne, School Business Manager; Michael Sander, COO, Living Surface Company; Radwan Ahmed

Living walls are helping to reduce pollution at several local schools, as Tower Hamlets Council confirms its commitment to carry out air quality audits at all primary schools in the borough.

The school gates at Stephen Hawking Primary School in Limehouse have been covered in ivy to filter damaging particulates emitted by road traffic in the area and to bring pupils closer to nature.

Cllr Kabir Hussain, Cabinet Member for Environment and the Climate Emergency, visited the school, which is dedicated to raising the standard of educational achievement for children with learning, health, and care needs.

Today, Tower Hamlets confirmed its commitment to carry out three air quality audits per year at primary schools to assess ways to improve air quality. Part of this work is to install green walls at local primary schools to improve the playground space and tackle toxic air pollution emitted from vehicles.

Green screens can also improve local biodiversity and have a positive impact on the wellbeing of students and staff – as well as benefiting the local street scene.

The living green wall was installed in June with funding from Tower Hamlets Council’s Local Infrastructure Fund, which aims to improve neighbourhoods.

Cabinet Member for Environment and the Climate Emergency, Cllr Kabir Hussain, said:

“It was lovely to visit Stephen Hawking Primary School and see the green wall installation. We are committed to improving air quality and implementing projects that help protect children’s lung capacities and ensure they can breathe cleaner air.

“Children in Tower Hamlets have up to 10 per cent less lung capacity than the national average because of air pollution and we cannot let this continue. Initiatives like this are just one way we are trying to make a difference.”

School Business Manager, Lisa Payne, said:

“Stephen Hawking School is situated in a pollution hot spot which is concerning as our pupils are some of the most vulnerable children in the borough, many suffer with complex respiratory conditions. The Council awarding us the pollution wall will help reduce dangerous particles our children could be breathing, making our playgrounds safer for the children and staff.”

“Building on from this great start and promoting further use of the outside area we will be fundraising for a sensory wall and more natural green spaces to promote children and staff’s wellbeing. A connection to nature will enhance our children’s lives, especially those with life limiting conditions and help promote positive mental health.”

The Council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards team has organised green wall installations at two other schools in the borough recently; Cyril Jackson Primary School, in Limehouse, and Old Palace Primary School, in Bow.

Air quality in Tower Hamlets is measured with an extensive monitoring network of 92 NO2 diffusion tubes and four automatic monitoring stations, covering the whole borough.

Find out more about air quality on our website.

Posted on Wednesday 20th July 2022