Greening urban landscapes with “eco-friendly” billboards



Vertical greenery is moving to new heights. Recently, Coca-Cola has pushed the envelope by introducing a “green” billboard as part of their CSR and sustainability commitments. Coca-Cola and World Wide Fund for Nature have put up a billboard in Manila that they say helps to “promote the environment.” The 60-by-60-foot sign is made up largely of living plants, which absorb carbon dioxide.

The billboard, planted on Manila’s busiest street, was created by Momentum Philippines, collaborating with McCann Erickson and Starcom MediaVest Group. The billboard uses 3,600 pots of Fukien tea plants, which can each absorb an average of 13 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Recycled Coca-Cola bottles were used as pots. The plants, which are potted in a mixture of industrial byproducts and organic fertilizers, are watered by an efficient drip irrigation system called trickle irrigation or micro-irrigation.

Billboards are often frowned upon and are thought to be an eye-sore. Their removal and allocation is often one of the biggest causes for concern when it comes to urban aesthetics. In addition to this, billboards often use up a lot of energy and create a large amount of light pollution. However according to the Louis Berger Group, billboards use considerably less energy now than they do four years ago.

Energy consumption by 14×48 foot digital bulletins has dropped 61% since 2007, while energy consumption by 12×24 foot digital posters declined 40% over the same period, on average. A number of innovations have resulted in the reduction in average energy-consumption. These include brightness controls that reduce light at night and improved cooling technology which is replacing costly air conditioning. The switch to LEDs has also resulted in big energy savings in some cases.

Jumping on the bandwagon of greener billboards, earlier this month, Ricoh Company finished installing the very first 100 percent “eco-powered” billboard in London, located on the motorway between London and Heathrow Airport. The sign contains 96 solar panels and five wind turbines, which will produce an average of 12,000 watts/hour a day. They have also installed a similar board in New York’s Time Square. During bad weather the billboard may not light up and this is something that the company accepts as an ‘eventuality’