The founder of the Leipzig palm startup and Urban Greening Camp for greening and vertical farming developed a world innovation to improve urban habitats. This innovation called ‘Energy Storage Tree‘ can reduce costs of tree planting in cities and generally make urban greening more efficient and cost-effective. It involves innovative, mobile, modular, energy- and water-saving raised bed systems. Extensive concepts have been developed for initial energy storage raised bed systems. These mobile and modular raised bed systems for sustainable recreation, energy and water storage will make urban regions, large cities, small towns but also rural areas more livable. In fact, the raised beds can also be placed in village squares, tram or train stations and bus stops. Several innovations are combined in one general raised bed system and charging station. Energy and water storage enables sustainable and environmentally friendly operation. Ecological components, durability and low maintenance allows very efficient and long operation for decades – at least with minor corrections or repairs every few years. More details on the most important points will follow on the social and project pages. A comprehensive description of the basic concept and the standard variant were already published in August 2021.
The raised bed system is an energy storage station, a space or place to relax and recharge the batteries. The raised bed is equipped with small-growing tree species up to 5m. The special construction and processing of weather-resistant woods allow a long standing time, of course, it varies depending on the stand and location. The stability is increased by extra reinforced outer walls and inner walls with squared lumber in the corners, it is just taken usual measures for stabilization as it is common for raised bed construction. Due to the scalability, it can also be planted with many flowers, bushes, herbs and special shrubs or larger trees. The raised bed provides enough space and sufficient watering for the plants to grow well, also by good energy and atmosphere.
The standard dimensions for the standard design of the basic raised bed construction is 1.20×1.20×1.20m. The minimum basic or standard equipment consists of a mobile raised bed with foldable, robust and weather-resistant wooden benches or painted chipboard. If possible, the woods are treated with ecological or environmentally friendly varnishes or oils. The benches have a small angle of inclination towards the raised bed, so that rainwater can flow into the raised bed through latticed openings. All the inner sides of the raised bed are lined with pond liner and there are holes at the bottom as is common with large pots or planters. Below the raised bed there is an extra tray to catch rainwater. Excess water can drain down the side via drains a few inches above the bottom tray to prevent waterlogging in the raised bed, but at the same time water is available at the bottom for larger plants such as trees or shrubs. The lower compartment is accessible, the water can be drained at any time via a closable drain or water can be taken out for watering. The lowest side of the raised bed is extra reinforced with a solid plate, and is attached with rotating rollers with platforms made of metal or steel. Alternatively, a prefabricated rolling board can be attached at the bottom. These constructions provide extra stability and tilting of the raised bed becomes very unlikely, even with the simple standard variant, the raised bed stands firmly and stably. Due to the weight of the tree and the soil, the benches can be well loaded.
The extended standard variant contains three water reservoirs in the outer walls. One side has closable openings and extra compartments, the spaces between them are about 10-25cm wide, depending on the variant. The dimensions as well as designs are generally variable. Wide, high, rectangular or square raised beds can be made. Wide raised beds are suitable for shallow rooted plants and high ones for deep rooted plants. The benches or solar benches are set at about 50-60cm, so all people regardless of size can sit comfortably. Depending on the application, budget and location, smaller or larger raised bed systems are possible. Various casters can be attached or even replaced at the bottom of the solid top, depending on weight and size. Casters with locks and stoppers are available, or no casters for permanent and long-term installations. More details and sketches are in the utility model, concept and design papers.
Modular functions of the mobile raised bed allow a wide variation and a lot of additional applications. Lockable compartments and flaps provide access to spaces on the sides, for example, to perform cleaning, remove drains or add special fertilizer, mineral and water mixtures. The idea of give and take is harmoniously combined with the raised bed system. The spaces for the water storage tanks and lockable compartments for the modules are easily accessible and watertight. The modules such as adapters, energy storage, climate station and measuring devices are interchangeable – the latter are good for analyzing the tree or other plants, for example. The data can be retrieved, various devices and e-bikes can be charged via adapters. An expansion of the raised bed to include a mobile climate station for the city and regional climate would be conceivable, so like a connection to the power grid. The raised bed system will support the transition towards climate-neutral, greener and smarter cities and urban habitats. Sustainability and environmental awareness is additionally trained by the raised bed. The raised beds are also a meeting point for young people, pupils and students to get inspired by nature-based solutions and ideas. The raised bed system encourages raised bed construction at universities, schools and in school gardens.
Background on the sustainable and ecological developments
Ecological and recycled materials are preferred for raised bed construction. Inexpensive variants can even be realized with simple pallets or chipboard. These are previously oiled, painted or impregnated, as well as lined with pond liner so that they last for many years.
It took months and years to develop, studying raised beds and urban trees from around the world. The basic idea was born in 2017 and matured during the last months, the main reason and intention from the beginning was to make city tree planting more affordable, because especially in western countries like Germany a planting of a city tree can cost up to 3000 euros or even more – worldwide the price in big cities is at least around 1000 dollars. This was also one of the reasons to develop a mobile raised bed system which can reduce the price worldwide to far below 1000 dollars, depending on the country and material costs even below 300!
A raised bed for trees can of course also be realized with used barrels, rain barrels or IBC containers. This is especially suitable for communities and cities with little money, similar to poor regions in Africa or places with great poverty and poor soils. For this purpose, trees can even be kept for a few years in large sturdy garbage bags, as is done in some nurseries or tree plantations in developing countries.
The pattern of the simple standard variant of the raised bed system serves as a model for all cities in the world and is at the same time a good example for public use. More efficient and sustainable greening, resources and energy use is possible in the long run with different variants of the energy storage raised bed system. There is also some space under the raised bed, for example for stones. The concept and some design variants have been further developed by the Urban Greening Network project developer and founder of the new Leipzig palm startup since 2020. In August, final designs and excerpts from the general concept were published on various platforms and made available to the international community.