There’s something incredibly charming and heart-warming about the sight of lush greenery hugging the walls of a building. They don’t just make the building interesting and striking, but these earth-friendly elements bring so much functionality and value to the space. Green walls or living walls are panels of plants that are grown vertically on free-standing structures or building walls and have now become a must-have architectural feature in buildings, especially commercial spaces. Stanley Hart White, an American professor of landscape architecture first patented the idea of living walls back in 1938, but it is French botanist Patrick Blanc who is credited for popularizing green walls with his stunning creations at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris sparking a sustainable architecture revolution.
Introducing green walls in built environments is an opportunity for architects to leverage the advantages of plant life and living systems that extend beyond aesthetics. Also known as vertical gardens, living walls, eco walls, and living green walls, these elements are turning gray architecture into something beautiful and mesmerizing. They can also improve air quality, reduce noise pollution and provide numerous health benefits to people who use buildings that feature green walls. A great option for businesses that want to add a decorative value to their buildings without sacrificing floor space, green walls add fantastic color, lively vibe, and unique design element to any space.
Type of Green Walls
Green wall systems are usually one of three types: panel/modular systems, tray systems, and free-standing walls. In the case of panel or modular systems, plants are pre-grown into panels and can be used indoors or outdoors in any type of climate. Since this system features plants that are cultivated well in advance of the installation, they bring instant gratification and visual impact to the setting. When it comes to a tray system, plants are pre-grown off-site and inserted into the wall offering great design flexibility. In tray systems, each individual tray is capable of holding a certain amount of water which gives plants ample hydration without having to compete for it. Tray systems are commonly used indoors and are cheaper than the panel system. Free-standing green walls are movable living walls that can be used both indoors and outdoors and can also be used as flexible room-dividers or on-demand partitions.
Water Management Systems in Green Walls
The most common watering system in green walls is the drip-irrigation system which links an Irrigation Control Box (ICB) directly into the plumbing system of the building. The system maximizes water usage and is set up using an automated system that can be released on a timed schedule thus, minimizing waste of water. Tank system or ‘water tanks’ is another water management system, but it is mostly seen in tray systems and free-standing green walls. They basically need to be filled and re-filled manually and since they aren’t connected to the building’s plumbing, they require manual labor. Since they do not recycle unused water automatically, water tanks are less efficient than drip-irrigation systems.
Best plants for Green Walls
There is no green wall exactly like another. Each one is designed exclusively for a specific project that incorporates the plant species based on the aesthetic preferences of the business owners. It also depends on other factors such as geographical area, whether the wall will be installed indoors or outdoors, the size of the installation as well as the light conditions of the setting.
A well-designed, pristine green wall not just improves the look and feel of a building, but it adds the unmatched beauty of nature and protects it from temperature fluctuations, deterioration, cracks and fissures, and UV radiation. It helps in cooling the air in summers, thereby reducing the need to cool the building and insulating the building in winters, thereby reducing the need to heat the building and reducing energy costs. They have a positive impact on people’s performance, creativity, health, and overall well-being by creating an enjoyable work environment. It is the best business investment you will make.