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Green building envelopes

Designing buildings that help a city to breathe

Designing buildings that help a city to breathe

As cities grow, their green spaces often shrink. Yet green infrastructure plays a key role in healthy, appealing and resilient cities. Green envelopes improve air quality and reduce pollution by filtering fine particles out of the air. Not only that. They also minimise heat island effects and contribute to reduce noise levels.

Arup develops green building envelope concepts that both meet individual client goals for energy efficiency and environmental experience, but that also contribute to a more sustainable urban environment.

Natural diversity

We offer a wide range of green building envelopes moss walls, tree façades, and urban agriculture initiatives such as vertical farming, beehives and wildlife corridors, which all help to deliver better air quality.

Green roofs greatly improve water management too, enabling storm water retention with timely release to public drainage systems and making it unnecessary to build expensive infrastructural storm water facilities.

Vertical Meadow

Vertical Meadow is an innovative and cost effective living wall system for temporary applications such as construction site scaffolding and hoardings. Plants and flowers can be grown from seed in-situ on a temporary mat that is easily fixed. Within two or three weeks the first shoots start to appear, before growing into a verdant vertical meadow - turning any unsightly hoarding or scaffolding into something remarkable.


We develop green building envelope concepts that are tailored to local and climatically relevant conditions and achieve manifold positive effects that complement each other in the best possible way towards a healthier and more sustainable built environment. ”

Tom Armour is the Global Landscape Architecture Leader for Arup Tom Armour Global Landscape Architecture Leader

Exploring the potential

Our experts have combined different disciplines in order to quantify the benefits of green building envelopes, examining their potential to mitigate urban noise, air pollution and heat. This extensive research has enabled us to make the effects, in terms of profitability, predictable and measurable.

Natural energy - could green facades be the answer?

This is a question we’ve tried to answer through extensive research and real world application of our ideas. SolarLeaf is a bio-reactive cladding technology that uses algae and sunlight to harvest power within a building’s envelope.

As the world struggles to power itself without contributing to climate change, experiments like this could lead to the technologies we need.


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The bioenergy facade

This research project is a further development of the SolarLeaf facade, the world’s first algae bioreactor facade, where microalgae are cultivated in glass elements that generate heat for the building operation and biomass for the food and pharmaceutical industries.


Discover how our team can help

You can access our green building envelope experts through regional consultants around the world.