Can Houseplants Really Clean the World's Smoggiest City?

CEO uses greenery to filter the filthy New Delhi air that doctors said was killing him.
Dec 30, 2014 12:30 PM ET
Article

On the roof of an office building in India's capital, the world's smoggiest city, Kamal Meattle has a unique tactic for cleaning the air: a greenhouse with 400 common plants, including mother-in-law's tongue.

Meattle, the CEO of Paharpur Business Centre, has 800 other plants spread throughout the building's lower six floors, greening each room and hallway. Their job: remove soot and other chemicals from the often charcoal-colored outdoor air.

In India, where almost no one wears filter masks on the streets as many do in China, Meattle is seen as a radical. He says he's even been dubbed the Mad Hatter of Nehru Place, a high-tech hub that's home to his leafy building and an adjacent lot he converted from a slum into an oasis of 2,000 trees.

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Michelle Hindmarch
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