During COVID 19, lockdowns and stay at home orders have brough out a stronger desire to connect with nature. The urban flight from cities to sub urban locations also reflect a need to escape space constraints and live in natural surroundings. Living walls that introduce nature into an urban scenario provide a way to enjoy the best of both worlds – urban living with the benefits of a green environment.
What is a living wall?
Living walls also referred to as green walls are vertical gardens that are attached to the exterior or interior of a building. These structures can be free standing or attached to a wall. The system usually consists of a framework with water proofing panels, irrigation systems or integrated water distribution systems and plants. Lighting and other special materials can be added on for effect. Some systems are hydroponic (no soil) whereas others use soil or substrate to anchor the plants.
What are the benefits of living walls?
Living walls installed on building exterior walls provide insulation from heat and cold. The plants absorb sunlight reducing solar heat gain. When installed on the side of a building receiving the most sunlight, living walls provide a cooling effect.
In interior spaces Living walls are used for health related as well as artistic purposes. Living walls improve air quality providing cleaner oxygenated air. The plants absorb carbon di oxide and saturate the air with fresh oxygen. Plants can also serve as filters by absorbing and removing toxic chemicals.
In densely populated urban areas where horizontal space for food cultivation is limited, vertical gardens can be the answer. Living walls can also be a source of food production supplying herbs and vegetables.
Living walls are also known to have many biophilic benefits. Biophilic design aims to integrate both natural and man-made elements into buildings with the objective of increasing the health and productivity of it’s occupants. Installing green walls in office buildings has been known to increase productivity, mood and worker satisfaction while reducing illness and absenteeism.
Plants have long been used to reduce noise on highways and roads. Living walls can act as a sound barrier. When installed on exterior walls, these structures also help to reduce noise levels inside, by absorbing and reflecting sound.
And last but not least the combined effect of a feature that brings about a connection to nature and incorporates sustainable elements that reduce energy costs can add value to the building increasing property value.