Commercial buildings in particular are benefitting from the landscaping trend of living walls/green walls/vertical gardens.
Corporations and consumer habits face increasing pressure to be aware of their impact on the planet. Expanding green areas seems like a logical step in improving local environments, but perhaps the reason for this vertical trend is much simpler. In city spaces green spaces can be limited or contrived, and domestic gardens are often tiny or non-existent.
Jim Mumford, president of Good Earth Plant Company in San Diego explains, “If you don’t have enough room to put plants on the floor, then the wall is the natural place to go.”
Living walls comprise of wall-mounted collections of plants. They are rooted in soil, fabric, foam or Grodan, planted in a support structure with an irrigation system and drainage.
Living Walls and Health
Part of the trend not only comes from gaining certificates of the WELL Building Institute, but also in its benefits to personal wellbeing. There is a biophilia hypothesis that, coined by Edward O. Wilson believes human psychology is negatively affected when estranged from nature. Limited research even suggests indoor plants reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
Indoor vertical gardens don’t do much to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in commercial buildings. Volume of air brought in by mechanical systems overwhelms any impact plants might have on IAQ. They might improve IAQ in a room of a small private residence, although not commonly used in this way. However, where not properly maintained, the plants could have the opposite effect. Particularly, if they become dusty, underwatered, or mouldy from overwatering.
Plants are a fantastic sound dampening benefit and improve acoustics the collective surface area in leaves helps to absorb sound.
Living walls on a grand scale are a pricy investment. However, a compact installation can create interest and colour to the smallest of spaces.