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

The sight of a concrete building turning green may strike fear into the hearts of architects or building maintenance managers, but for those at Dutch startup Respyre, it’s a sign of things going exactly to plan. 

Auke Bleij (main picture) and team pioneer 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.

Plus, said Bleij: “It requires minimal maintenance, looks great – and is even graffiti-resistant”. 

And, in a bid to get the aforementioned maintenance managers on side, applying the mossy concrete actually helps protect underlying walls or surfaces against weathering, effectively extending their lifetime, he adds. 

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

‘It requires minimal maintenance, looks great – and is even graffiti-resistant,’ said Bleij. Image: Respyre

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.

Main image: Respyre


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