The Future Economy Group’s ultimate guide to planting a living green wall on your building!

Our living-wall is nearly 30 metres long, and has over 25 plant species, from bee-friendly wildflowers to native alpines and succulents. It improves local air quality, insulates the building, reduces noise pollution and provides food for our urban pollinators and also makes everyone smile as they walk past! It took weeks of careful planning, design and installation, but is now up and settling in

The Materials we used

The livingwall system is known as a phytotextile system and comprises 3 layers: the back layer is a waterproofing layer and is made from a blend of recycled plastics. The middle layer is the rooting layer, and is made from pasteurised mixed felts and natural fibres made from recycled post-consumer upholstery waste.

The front layer is a breathable 'phytotextile' made from a blend of mineral wool and plastic fibre, formed into small planting pockets. The phytotextile creates an ideal environment for plant growth. The textile is air and water porous, but has a fine enough structure to hold in sediment, fines and nutrients. The textile is UV stable, non-toxic, tear-resistant and acts as a support structure for the plants. The system is mounted to a plaswood batten support substructure. The plaswood we use is sourced from Swansea, and is made from 100% recycled agricultural plastics. It is rot-resistant, strong, robust and behaves the same as timber, but lasts a lot longer, and locks up carbon that would otherwise end up in landfill. We backfilled the void behind the substructure with reclaimed insulation from the fitout - this adds to the existing dynamic insulation value of the livingwall, helping keep the building warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. The system is carbon neutral upon installation, and will start sequestering further carbon from the first day of planting.

Irrigation

Water is automatically emitted into the irrigation layer via a system of emitter lines, which emit small, precise quantities of water directly into the rootzone of the plants. This maximises water efficiency and also prevents soil and nutrients from being washed out of the pockets. At present, for the livingwall to establish, we are using mains water, but will be installing rain water harvesting ongoing. The system will run for about 3 minutes, 3 times a day. The system will use approx 12 litres of water a day on average, with less in the winter, and more in the summer.

Plant species

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 14.20.34.png

The plant species used have been selected for air quality benefits, and also as best for pollinating insects. All the species used are adapted to low nutrient, shallow soils, and many are found naturally growing in crevices, cliff faces and hillsides, making them ideal for use in a livingwall system. There are around 600 plants in total. Around 300 are a mix of native wildflowers which are great for pollinating insects, these include species such as Ox Eye Daisy, Kidney Vetch, Creeping Jenny and Birdsfoot Trefoil. Around another 200 are native succulents from the family Sedum, which are typically found on livingroofs. These include Sedum reflexum, Sedum Alba, Sedum Spurium, Sedum Morganium, amongst others. The remaining 100 are a mix of a robust succulents and alpines which have been trialled on other projects across the UK by Livegraft. They are chosen because they are robust, have all year round interest and perform well at cleaning the air. From ongoing research, for maximum air quality remediation, the best approach is for maximum foliar diversity - that is to have lots of different types of leaf - grass-like, succulent, waxy, broadleaf - this is to maximise particulate capture as polluted air passes through the foliage. The substrate used is a reclaimed, recycled blend of expanded clay, perlite, crushed aggregate waste, soil, compost and horticultural grit. The system is inoculated with mycorrhizal fungus prior to planting, to ensure a robust network is established between beneficial microbes and fungi, and the root networks of the plants. 

Lifespan.

The lifespan of the system moves in decimal places from the front (the plants) to the rear (the substructure) - most of the plants will live for around 10 years. The phytotextile fabric may continue to perform well for a 100 years, and the plaswood supports should have a lifespan of around 1000 years. 


3 energy efficient ways to reduce your heating bills and lower carbon emissions

Every year in the UK we spend millions more than we actually need to heat our homes and workplaces. However, a lot of what is really costing us and the environment is ‘heat loss’. There are actually some really simple and low-cost solutions to reduce your heating bills, by using insulation tactics and also improving the speed of our heating systems. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the most do-able options, all of which have a payback in 6 months or less!

  1. Apply a heating additive to your radiator

If you have gas heating system, you can use a heating additive such as Endotherm to save up to 15 % on your heating bills. Endotherm is a scientific solution that changes the molecule bonds in water, to reduce surface tension. Without delving too much into the science of it all, this essentially means your water will heat quicker and radiate faster! Your boiler uses less fuel and the radiators stays hotter for longer, which has been independently tested by the energy savings trust to save up to 15% every year. What’s great about the product is that it’s very affordable, a 500ml bottle will dose up to 12 radiators and it also lasts more than 6 years. We offer a competitive price at just £ 3X a bottle, so depending on the size of your heating system, you are generally looking at a 6 month payback!

heatingadditive.png

2. Draught proofing

Insulation is one of the most effective ways to keep the heat in, but if you don’t have a large budget for high tech solutions, then foam and sealant hangings are a great way to fill in holes. Look for windows with gaps, electrical fittings, floorboards (big culprit). Adhesive strips for doors, also stop heat being lost and are very cost-effective.

3. Thermal paints

Thermal paints offer an extra layer of insulation and don’t look too distracting. This thin layer of paint, works by creating a reflective layer and acts as a barrier for the heat This is something we at The Future Economy Group will be using on the brickwork of our sustainability hub in Bristol. It works particularly well if you have a really nice feature in your office or home building, that you wouldn’t like to clad or cover up.

All of these are quick, easy and cost-effective fixes, that can easily be put into action. We particularly recommend Endotherm and are proud to announce that we shall be stocking bottles of Endotherm in our retail space, as well as offering a free quote online. If you’re interested in EndoTherm we recommend signing up below and we can let you know how much carbon and money you could save.

Name *
Name

Live Sustainably in the city with these innovative food waste apps

Nearly 1/3 of all world food produced, is wasted. It’s easy to forget about the water, carbon and energy it takes, to bring fresh food to your table. 80% of the average UK food shop is thrown away, with meat, fish and milk are the commonly wasted foods.

We can change our attitudes to reduce food waste at home, but there are also an emerging number of exciting food apps and technologies which are solving the problem of waste in the city. Many of the experts in this field have spoken at our Sustainable Food and Drink event last week.

Here’s a round up of apps you can use in Bristol and the SouthWest..

Screen Shot 2019-03-01 at 13.09.11.png
  1. Too Good To Go

    This handy app, lets you eat at really nice restaurants for a fraction of the price.

Any food that will otherwise be thrown away and is good enough to eat, can be purchased at special time slots through out the day.

You bring along your own tupperware or are given a ‘magic bag’ that is filled with tasty food! From £2 sushi with your friends or £3 curry on a Sunday evening, there are some serious bargains on this app!

Restaurants throw out nearly 17,000 double deckers busses worth of food waste every year (a whopping 200,000 tons!) So it’s a much needed app.

2. The Refill app

Screen Shot 2019-03-01 at 13.33.00.png

This handy app let’s you fill up your reusable bottle, without feeling like you have to purchase something at various tap venues in Bristol. With the colossal effects of plastic waste from water bottles and tap water in the UK, being some of the best in the world, it make a lot sense to go reusable. This app is now nationwide so you can fill your water bottle anywhere, from train stations to cafes.

The app is pioneered by City To Sea, who recently did a talk at our sustainability event.

foodwaste.png

3. Olio

This app connects you with neighbours and local shops, to share food that would otherwise be thrown out. You can offer food yourself, or go and grab food yourself from a variety of places.

Olio say “Whether you’re a household or business, adding to OLIO is easy. Simply snap a photo, add a brief description and provide pick-up details. A lovely neighbour will be delighted to take it off your hands.”

We run weekly sustainability events, where you can connect with the green business community.

We’d love to see you at our next event.

Press Release: Our new £1.5m sustainability hub to open in Bristol

A new £1.5m sustainability hub, which will showcase the latest green products, technologies and services on the market, stage events and provide work space for environmental enterprises, is to open in Bristol in April.

The hub - the first of its kind in the UK - is located on the Gloucester Road in the former Maplins building and will be run by The Future Economy Group, a sustainable products and services business.

The prominent 1930s art deco building will be transformed into a carbon neutral facility and will initially create 12 new jobs.

Says Alan Bailey, Director of the Future Economy Group: “We’re really excited to acquire this building and give it a new lease of life. The fabulous location is ideal for our sustainability events space and retail area, which will be showcasing the green tech products of the future. We expect some 5,000 visitors during our first year of operation including businesses and members of the public. Our business model will be an exemplar of how to draw people back on to the high street whilst utilising space that aligns to current needs and customer demand.

“The second phase of our development will provide working space for innovative enterprises, start-ups, sustainability professionals and anyone that is focused on sustainable products and services. Therefore, we expect the hub to be a real hive of activity promoting sustainable economic growth.”

The Future Economy Group offers a range of environmental services, including consultancy, recruitment, environmental products and weekly business networking and knowledge sharing events. The business has also created The Future Economy Network, one of the largest green business networks in the South West.

Adds Katherine Piper, Network Director: “It’s really exciting to have our own events space and hub, so we can deliver exceptional networking and knowledge sharing events, bringing in expert speakers from across the sector. Our new home will give us the infrastructure to help businesses, individuals and organisations across the Bristol region become more sustainable.” 

If you wish to follow our progress the details are:

www.thefutureeconomynetwork.co.uk

www.thefutureeconomygroup.co.uk

 Twitter - @FutureEconomyN

5 easy-to-keep plants that will improve office air quality

5 easy-to-keep plants that will improve office air quality..png

Here at FEN, we’ve been researching the best plants to brighten up and improve the air quality of our office.

We want to share our findings with you, which have been astonishing. The chemicals in paint, plastic bags and even the varnish on office furniture all emit toxic invisible fumes while we are working.  Air quality is getting worse and worse in cities, but who are the main culprits for emitting bad air quality in the office? Take a look at the three toxins that are harmful and yet abundant in office everyday life.

Formaldehyde  – Found in plastic bags, paper bags, paper towels, napkins, synthetic fabrics, floor coverings, particle board and plywood. It is used in pressed office furniture.  Benzene  – Found in vehicles fumes, glue, paint and furniture wax. It is used to make plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes, detergents and pesticides.  Trichloroethylene  – Found in paint, varnishes printing inks and adhesives.

Formaldehyde – Found in plastic bags, paper bags, paper towels, napkins, synthetic fabrics, floor coverings, particle board and plywood. It is used in pressed office furniture. Benzene – Found in vehicles fumes, glue, paint and furniture wax. It is used to make plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes, detergents and pesticides. Trichloroethylene – Found in paint, varnishes printing inks and adhesives.

To understand the importance of plants, you first need to understand that there are toxins virtually everywhere in the office. Don’t feel too overwhelmed though, because there is something you can do! Get some toxin sucking PLANTS! we’ve narrowed down the best plants that will eliminate these very toxins.

The plants that made the top of our list were based on 3 factors:

  1. The best toxin eliminators for each one of the the three chemical culprits.

  2. The most easy to keep and hard to kill plants.

  3. The most aesthetically pleasing, guaranteed to brighten your mood on a busy Monday in the office!

BEST FOR FILTERING Formaldehyde

TIP: Spider plants love to hang too! Try hanging a spider plant as another way of having the planet in the office.

TIP: Spider plants love to hang too! Try hanging a spider plant as another way of having the planet in the office.

SPIDER PLANTS

These sweet looking, fast growing and low maintenance plants look fantastic in bathrooms, kitchens or as cute desk plants. They have narrow long leaves and grow well in low or medium light conditions, making them perfect for if there’s not loads of natural light in the office.

They also are great for removing carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide too.

Red-Edged Dracaena

Red-Edged Dracaena

We love red-edged Dracaena because they grow like standalone little trees and just look great, but you can also have the baby versions on your desk or on a window sill too! They too, are great at filtering in Formaldehyde and keeping your air fresh.

They prefer indirect sun light and and yet again are an easy to keep plant.

TOP TIP: Team up with a ceramic pot as a stylish base for your plant.

Areca Palm

carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide air purifying Areca Palm

This is an absolute classic of an indoor plant and it just seems to never go out of style. Add some tropical flair to your office, while busting formaldehyde in the office.

Areca Palm office plant - the centre piece

According to NASA they have are the best air purifying plant around, so we consider them an office staple!

These palms can reach heights of 15 feet, so can be a perfect centre piece at a reception or communal area. What’s great about them is they work great in sun or shade, so as long as you don’t neglect them, they’re pretty easy going plants!

BEST FOR FILTERING Benzene.

Tip: Try putting your daisies on a window sill to brighten up a gloomy day, and do ensure they have a direct light source.

Tip: Try putting your daisies on a window sill to brighten up a gloomy day, and do ensure they have a direct light source.

Gerbera Daisy

These are fantastic for filtering out Benzene, but we also love them as they come in so many colours; red,yellow and pink. They are particular show stoppers, and fit for an office that could do with a touch of colour. They do need lots of sunlight however, so we recommend a nice sunny office.

Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos

These lovely vine hanging plants are fantastic to have hanging off shelving units and in bathrooms.

They are brilliant at filtering Benzene and just look so pretty! As well as being easy-to-keep.

They can be grown in vases of water or dry soil. and like both direct and indirect sunlight too.

BEST FOR REMOVING trichloroethylene

trichloroethylene  filtering mother in laws tongue

Mother-in-laws tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

This funny named plant, is extremely hardy and will happily grow in most conditions. It has fantastic, NASA approved, trichloroethylene filtering abilities, which make it a prime candidate for the office environment.

PEACE LILY (Spathiphyllum)

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 13.59.03.png

Peace Lilys are stunning, with their white flowers and gleaming leaves, they add an elegance and sophisticated feel to any office environment. They’re also super easy to keep and thrive in low light and dark rooms. If you’ve got a stuffy or dark room, pop a peace lily in there to transform it.

NASA voted these Lilies to be the best for filtering trichloroethylene and oxygenating the room.

So that’s the round up of plants we’ll be using in our new sustainability hub. We recommend getting a combination, to tackle all the three of the main toxins.

If you don’t know where to go there are two great local independent plant shops we recommend…

WILD LEAF - Just off Gloucester road, it’s got a fantastic selection of plants ideal for the office shelf.

OLD MARKET PLANTS - Perfect for larger Palms, has a very big range of plants for the office.

If you would like to attend our next event coming up, we have an air quality event with expert speakers where you can learn how to make a difference and see what action is being taken in our city and beyond - Get your tickets here