The two-floor-freeway Anillo Periférico in Mexico City is one of the most used roads not only in Mexico but in the whole of Latin America. The enormous traffic volume is one of the main reasons for Mexico City belonging to the most air polluted cities in the world.
In this context, the project Vía Verde (“Green Way”) has come into being. Currently, it is the biggest urban gardening project worldwide. The purpose of the project is to reduce noise and air pollution in Mexico City. Also, the project helps to resolve the City’s general structural problems. The World Economic Forum has especially honored Vía Verde for its unique innovation, mainly in on-site developed technologies.
The project and how it works
Vía Verde’s concept consists of the creation of vertical gardens along the pillars that connect the road at ground level with the second floor above. In total, that involves more than 1000 pillars.
The architect Fernando Ortiz Monasterio is the founder of Vía Verde. Town planners, gardeners and botanists are involved in the implementation of the project. According to the team’s calculations, the green areas are able to filter 27,000 tons of air polluting gases as well as 10,000 kilograms of heavy metal particles. At the same time, the plants produce oxygen for 25,000 people. Therefore, on top of the aesthetic added value, the project benefits the environment and public health.
The funding of the project is based on sponsorship. In exchange for the monetary support, Vía Verde provides their sponsors with advertising space on every 10th pillar.
Amongst the innovative, locally developed technologies the project includes, there is mention of the sensors every garden is equipped with. In real time, they constantly transfer data concerning water, light, temperature and nutrients. That way, those conditions can be specifically regulated. In addition, every vertical garden has its own irrigation system.
As a side effect, the project has a positive impact on employment: 250 people are directly employed at Vía Verde; 750 jobs were created indirectly through the project. 100 community service people produce the bags that contain the plants.
Thanks to the appreciation of the World Economic Forum, Vía Verde has gained international prominence and recognition. The expansion of the project beyond national borders is now in the planning stage. Several requests have already reached Vía Verde from the United States, South America, Europe and Asia.
Also, inside Mexico, the creation of new vertical gardens is planned for Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Puebla. In Mexico City, 800 more gardens will be planted within the next 18 months. An area of 10 million m², spread out on walls, roofs, bridges and tunnels, is scheduled to become covered in greenery by the year 2030.
Vía Verde has shown that ecological and sustainable mindset has gained a foothold in Mexico. Thanks to innovative projects such as Vía Verde, Mexico City is developing from one of the dirtiest cities on earth into a technological pioneer concerning green technologies.