Green Lamp Posts Shine a Light on Urban Biodiversity

Green Lamp Posts Shine a Light on Urban Biodiversity

08 November 2021



Scotscape has teamed up with the Data Communications Company (DCC), which operates and maintains Britain’s smart metering network, on a proof of concept to explore how urban biodiversity coupled with remote data connectivity can help improve air quality in our towns and cities and take the UK closer to its Net Zero targets. Tests conducted by Scotscape have shown that each LivingPillar™ can absorb 4.5 kilograms of carbon per annum.

The British Ecological Society found that a range of solutions could offer the opportunity to support the effort towards talking climate change. Urban biodiversity options could assist in capturing carbon, mitigating air pollution, and reconnecting people with highly urbanized areas.

The Green Lamp Post experiment connects a Scotscape LivingPillar™ to the DCC’s communications network to create a smart greening system that can be maintained remotely while gathering environmental data.

With increased pollution levels in densely populated urban zones, we’re all concerned about the risks to our communities. As central government and local authorities develop their clean air plans, there is a clear need for green sensor technology that provides us with more insightful data to help tackle this growing problem.

The benefits of Green Lamp Post

The proof of concept involves three LivingPillars™ located in the car park of the DCC’s Manchester operations centre, Brabazon House. Four controller units are sited in the one of the dedicated test labs at Brabazon House and another in a garden in Cambridge.

A controller unit designed and developed by Toshiba is installed in each pillar (hidden in a bird box), along with an array of environmental sensors, switches, a battery, solar panel and a GPS comms module that connects to the DCC’s test environment. The controller unit enables communication via a dedicated web portal to monitor readings such as temperature, humidity and soil moisture and remotely manage irrigation of the planting via a float switch and pump relay control.

Further sensors record local environmental conditions, including nitrogen dioxide and ozone levels, air particulate matter, barometric (atmospheric) pressure, volatile organic compounds and noise levels. Each pillar can provide continuous environmental GPS-tagged data such as air pollution, temperature, to evidence and highlight the beneficial effects of biodiversity on air quality in more polluted urban areas.

Urban greening with LivingPillars

LivingPillars™ take the concept of vertical retrofitting of plants in urban landscapes one step further, by using the existing resource of street furniture (including lamp-posts) as a framework on which to grow plants. The patented fytotextile growing fabric supports a wide selection of annual, perennial and shrub planting that can be chosen to encourage biodiversity, help trap PM (Particulate Matter), absorb NO2, sequester carbon and provide colour all year round.

This is an effective green initiative, especially where tree planting is not viable, as it encourages biodiversity, helps to improve air quality and promotes psychological wellbeing and place-making.


Scotscape CEO and Founder Angus Cunningham

“We see biodiversity displacement in our cities in the same league as climate change in terms of challenge. We’ve been working with the University of Greenwich and University College London to monitor the effects of living pillars in London; now this collaboration with the DCC enables us to combine nature and technology to test and refine the mix of plant life for maximum benefit, and maintain it remotely, in different locations up and down the country”.

A joint environmental commitment

The DCC’s purpose is “making Britain more connected, so we can all leader smarter, greener lives”. By hosting this trial, the organisation wanted to back the hunt for innovative ways to reduce Carbon Emissions and support the drive to Net Zero. With almost 16 million connected smart meters on the DCC network, nearly 450,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions are being saved every year.

By measuring visually, the effect of biodiversity on cutting carbon in urban landscapes, the Green Lamp Post proof of concept will lend considerable weight to our collective drive to create a greener environment in our towns and cities across the UK.

What is the DCC?

Operating under Licence, the Data Communications Company works with the Government and energy industry, providing a secure data network across Britain which supports the roll-out of 53m digital smart meters in 30 million homes and small businesses. This transformation of Britain’s energy system, away from analogue “dumb” meters to a fully digital infrastructure, is one of the largest projects of its kind in the world.

To learn more about the DCC, visit LinkedIn and website.

Find out how LivingPillars can improve your environment. Call 0208 254 5000 or email


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