Case Study Sandfield Primary School

Stoke Road, Guildford Surrey, GU1 4DT.

Sandfield Primary School,

Completed September 2023

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The Brief

To design and plant a pair of Living Gates, one of the first of their type in the UK, with the young students as part of a wider project to help lower pollution levels in Sandfield primary school which is situated at a busy crossroads in the centre of Guildford with high pollution levels.

The main gate on York Road and fences along the school car park next to the playgrounds are the key pathways for traffic pollution to the school grounds. A collaborative discussion between the school, researchers from GCARE, ZERO Carbon Guildford and parents and residents’ groups came up with green infrastructure solutions to try to curb the effect of air pollution on the school children and staff.

The project team decided to install an ivy screen along the main road and a pair of living green gates at the school entrance.

The CoGreen project has been funded by the RECLAIM Network Plus.

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The Challenge

To ensure that the weight of the planting would not adversely affect the gate which should remain easy to open and close.

To include plants to provide year-round interest to attract a wide variety of pollinators and an irrigation system that would be suitable for gates that would be moving.

To run an interactive workshop with the young students to show how to plant Living Gates.

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The Approach (Design & logistics)

Working with the team from the Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE), supported by the RECLAIM Network Plus, pollution levels were monitored before the green interventions were installed and continue to be monitored to demonstrate the impact on pollution levels of the planting.

We designed the planting on the gates with hardy perennials to both help absorb pollution and encourage biodiversity.

Having the lightest Living Wall system on the market at 45KG per m2 fully planted and saturated was a key component in the ability of the gates to support the additional load.

The irrigation system was simply designed with a flexible fitting to service the movement of the gates.

The Result/ Outcome

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Our team turned teacher for the afternoon and passed on invaluable planting and irrigation knowledge.

The young students really enjoyed getting involved and planting them. The project brought together children, parents, the school and researchers in the installation process and facilitated the dissemination of the air quality benefits of green infrastructure.

The children also conducted biodiversity surveys to monitor the levels and diversity of animals, plants, and insects.

The University is monitoring the air pollution levels to determine their impact on particle levels in the school as well as the impact on noise reduction and enhanced biodiversity.

Analysis and reporting will be available in January 2024.

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The Legacy

As we continue on our journey to increase biodiversity levels and reduce pollution, it is important to educate the next generation about the importance of plants and how they are vital in making our cities healthier and more sustainable places to live, work and play.

This project secures maximum points for Environment and Social Gain (ESG) and should be used as a potential case study for channelling funds from corporates into meaningful projects.


Sandfield primary school have more LivingWalls to install in the playground. You can contribute here;

Fundraiser by Sandfield School: Help Sandfield School have a greener future (



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