Iosa Ghini Associati has created a new, eco-friendly monorail system in Italy: The Solar Energy Belt.

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Image source: iosaghini.it

The monorail travels between the city of Bologna and the Aeroporto G. Marconi di Bologna International Airport, with intermediate stops at Lazaretto—where the station also doubles as a highway overpass. The total system is relatively short; approximately 3.16 miles (5084 meters) in length, to be exact. But despite its size, it will be doing wonders for people and the environment.

The Solar Energy Belt itself has 2 main features. On the southwest side, you will find photovoltaic panels—similar to solar panel technology—which gives the system maximum energy performance. Venturing to the north side, however, you’ll find glazed panels instead. These are being used as balustrades to give a light, transparent quality to the rail.

And it doesn’t stop there, folks; there is also one particularly cool feature that I find rather fascinating. Using micro-perforated steel to build most of the station structure, plants are able to attach to and grow from the walls of the station itself. Implementing vertical gardens like this offers some amazing advantages. The plants act as an insulation system; able to keep the station cool during the summer (and provide shade) and help trap in the warmth during the colder months. They also act as a natural air pollutant filter system.

For those of you that are worried about potential monorail dangers or expansion, they’ve got those corners covered, too. All 3 stations were built with the possibility of expanding on them and the line in the future. Oh, and if there happens to be an emergency of some kind, there are walkways that run alongside the rail, connecting from station to station, so passengers are able to travel by foot, if need be.

While it may not be the most popular monorail in the world, or the most dangerous, it certainly is up there on the list of most eco-friendly, and if you happen to be traveling through Bologna, Italy, I’d suggest checking it out.