Phytoremediation is a process through which the integration of plant-based systems treats environmental problems by removing, degrading or metabolizing toxins from the air, water, and soil, thereby rendering them harmless. Phytoremediation as a means to increase human health and well-being at many scales in urban contexts is a quickly evolving area of inquiry.

Urbanization has led to a multitude of environmental, systemic factors that degrade both indoor and outdoor air quality, thereby adversely impacting building energy use, and human health and wellbeing. The impacts of urban development patterns on microbial diversity and interrelated human health indicators is a related and rapidly emerging area of scientific inquiry. Strategies for integrating large scale plant-based air handling systems into buildings are showing early promise to address air quality and related energy use and may be able to address identified challenges in built environment microbiome while offering a range of other environmental, material life cycle and energy benefits associated with an increase in urban vegetation.  However, the complexity of interactions between living systems and environmental control systems is such that there remain substantial gaps in the knowledge, thus continuing to impede both the value characterization and implementation of these systems.

Plant Research

Related Research

Sponsorship to Date:



Research Teams:

Anna Dyson, Jason Vollen, Ahu Aydogan, Matt Gindlesparger, Jefferson Ellinger, Peter Stark, Ted Nagi, Tyler Stout, Josh Draper, Mandi Pretorius, Phoebe Mankiewicz, Paul Mankiewicz, Christina Ciardullo, Cynthia Collins, Divya Ravichandar, Alicia Walf, Mae-ling Lokko, Ranjit Arpels-Josiah, Katrina Estacio, Rohit Chitale, Andrew Rosner, Nina Wilson, Nancy Diniz, Ben Feagin, Paulo Pinheiro, John Erickson, Kristin Bennett, Beizhan Yan, Qiang Yang, Connor Pinson, Andreas Theodoridis, Naomi Keena, Mohamed, Aly, Justin Shultz, Marianne Nyman, Tessa Pocock, Kenton Philips. 

Industrial Collaborators:


Other Collaborators:

NYU, RPI, ANL, Columbia Lamont Earth Observatory

Select Publications

Aydogan, A., Dyson, A., Montoya, L.D. “From a Lab Scale to the Building Scale: Formaldehyde Removal by a Plant Module,” in Proceedings of Healthy Buildings 2015 America, (2015).

Wrobetz A., Aydogan Akseli, A., and Montoya, L.D. “Physical and Biological Characterization of Porous Media for VOC Removal,” in Proceedings of American Association for Aerosol Research 34th Annual Conference, (2015).

Dyson, A., Aydogan, A., Vollen J., Nyman, M., Bird, J. “Building-Integrated Active Modular Phytoremediation System,” in Proceedings of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Meeting, 32d (2013).​


Aydogan, Ahu, and Lupita D. Montoya. 2011. "Formaldehyde Removal by Common Indoor Plant Species and Various Growing Media." Atmospheric Environment 45 (16): 2675-82. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.02.062.

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