We often hear about the positive impact of living walls on their immediate environment. Indoors or out, a vertical garden enhances the aesthetics of a space while also offering physical and mental health benefits ranging from improved air quality and noise reduction to lower stress levels and increased productivity in the workplace.
If we look at these benefits on a larger scale, it is easy to imagine how the installation of green walls, especially on exterior spaces in heavily populated urban areas, can have a profound impact on the health and longevity of their surrounding environment.
Living walls enhance biodiversity.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms in a particular habitat or environment. In urban areas especially, that variety is often diminished by ongoing development and expansion, but emerging research shows that green walls may offer a valuable solution.
By making use of underutilized rooftop or vertical space, a living wall system can provide similar benefits to a natural garden or public park area. For example, when designing our exterior living walls, Sagegreenlife uses native plants to support the feeding, nesting and pollination of local insects, birds and other species. This, in turn, helps those species increase in number, which revitalizes the ecosystem and promotes sustainability.
Vertical garden systems can also be used to grow fruit and vegetables in areas where fresh produce is scarce. This helps to create a local and sustainable food source and may help reduce the problem of food deserts.
Increased vegetation reduces the urban heat island effect.
Heavily developed urban environments tend to be hotter, on average, than their surrounding rural areas. The term scientists use to describe this effect is urban heat island, or UHI.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the annual mean temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. At night, the difference is even more pronounced and can be as high as 22°F (12°) because cities, unlike more remote areas, tend to retain heat longer.
Studies have linked UHIs with increased energy demand, lower air quality, higher greenhouse gas emissions, reduced water quality and more heat-related deaths and illnesses. However, green walls have been shown to mitigate these effects by acting as natural insulators and reducing heat transfer from a building’s exterior. This helps cool indoor air temperatures as well as reduce energy use.
In addition, plants filter out harmful particulates from the atmosphere and rainwater to improve both air and water quality. Living wall systems also slow stormwater runoff to lessen the potential for flooding.
These benefits and others put living walls at the forefront of green design.
More than ever before, architects, designers, building owners and city planners are incorporating green design into their long-term plans to create a better balance between urbanization and nature. This includes the use of exterior living walls to reduce the harmful effects of air pollution, conserve energy and improve human health and comfort.
The more we begin to look at the large-scale benefits of living walls, the more we start to see how those benefits affect the global environment. Installing a living wall system in a residential building, office space or retail venue is an important step toward reducing the burden on the surrounding ecosystem and softening the impact of urban development.
Talk to the experts at Sagegreenlife to start designing the perfect living wall solution.