Air pollution is a massive problem that requires equally drastic solutions. As the UK government pushes to reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050, the small and concerted efforts of private individuals and organisations contribute to help achieve this goal. One example of a small step that is already generating significant positive results is the adoption of living ‘green walls’.
Although green walls have been around for some time, they are treated as nothing more than an attractive design element. These days, the popularity of ‘green architecture’, together with innovation in design and installation make living green walls a viable solution to reduce air pollution.
What is the difference between a green façade and a green wall?
You may have already encountered a building with vegetation growing on the façade. There is a misconception that plants growing vertically are considered a green wall. On the contrary, the difference between a green façade and a green wall is that a green wall has a specific growing medium attached to the wall, whereas a green façade allows plants to grow on the ground and climb up the walls.
Importance of the growing medium used
Green wall installations can be either soil-based/substrate based, or hydroponic. A hydroponic system requires a special growing medium to support the plant’s roots. Plants are grown on panels before installing on site. In contrast, a substrate-based green wall uses special moulded containers attached directly to the wall or a supporting structure. Since most substrates have natural water-retention properties, construction and design are simpler. However, substrate-based green walls tend to be heavier.
For most commercial applications, there are a variety of installation and irrigation options. One example is an active green wall which uses additional air filtration technology aiding in the removal of indoor air pollutants. Active green living walls are increasingly popular for office spaces and indoor installations because they can produce more clean air than simply putting potted plants in the area.
Benefits of living green walls
In congested cities, green spaces are becoming scarce. For commercial buildings and office spaces, a green wall does not only improve the visual appearance of the area, but there are other significant benefits to adding a living green wall as an architectural feature.
- Improved air quality. Whether a green wall is indoors or outdoors, it helps in reducing air pollution. Plants naturally filter toxic compounds from the air, such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. In indoor spaces, certain plant species are effective in removing contaminants such as formaldehyde which typically comes from commercial cleaning chemicals.
- Better insulation and improved indoor temperature. Living green walls have built-in insulation, which helps maintain optimum indoor temperature. When used to cover outdoor walls, green walls can offset the heating effect of the sun and help reduce energy consumption.
- Creates a natural sound barrier. Another benefit of installing green walls in commercial spaces is that they act as physical barriers to noise.
Moreover, green walls in office spaces not only improve the ambience but also create a more comfortable working environment.
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