Essence of Living Walls (Green Walls) in the Architectural Typology!
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With the rising pollution levels, depleting resources, and rising consumerism, it is an essential to adopt a greener lifestyle. To combat global warming and conserve resources, people are cultivating habits like planting more trees. This is eventually helping in conserving the environment. The human population is increasing at an alarming rate, and this is eventually leading to ecological imbalance. With so called development, the footprints of nature are diminishing.
Well, one of the new methods which have played a significant role in giving a boost to saving nature is including living green walls in our homes. While this may sound new to you, many people over time have been following this trend to have close contact with nature. Living green walls are the natural walls in your room which are aimed at purifying the quality of air. Moreover, it contributes towards lowering the pollution of the place.
The trend of green walls is becoming popular in recent times. Apart from the gardens, living walls are also being added inside the house to promote greenery. Green walls have also become an essential part of hotel lobbies, office reception area, and skyscraper exteriors.
What are Living Walls?
As the name itself suggests, living walls are the walls which are alive. Living walls are incorporated in buildings to connect architectural typology with nature. According to ‘Amanda L. Culver’, (Published in Green Plants for Green Buildings), although it may sound like new technology, living walls have been in prominence since 1970. The living green walls are included in the buildings as fine examples of plant selection, design, and horticulture. They are also popular as ‘green walls’, ‘bio walls’ or ‘vertical gardens’.
Living walls have several economical, ecological and social benefits. Living walls further contribute towards purifying the environment and reduces the ambient temperature. Moreover, green walls further contribute towards regulating the temperature, conserving and promoting biodiversity. Most of the office spaces and households these days are adopting living walls. Living walls have eventually turned into an essential part of the green movement.
It is essential to note that green walls apart from improving the environment, also help to improve indoor air quality, and in workplaces helps to promote employee alertness. If you want to enjoy the benefits of nature in your house, it is better to include green walls. You don’t need to be worried about the location of these walls, as they can create a wow factor, whether they are included in the exteriors or interiors.
Benefits of Green Walls
Research has proven the benefits of green walls. Not only does it turn out healthy for the environment, but is beneficial for humans as well, since it helps you become healthier and hence happier. Ranging from environmental to visual, the living green walls are designed to offer you a wide range of benefits.
Visual Benefits of Green Walls
A touch of greenery in the house can eventually contribute towards making space look natural, bright, inspiring and attractive. Hence, the addition of green walls in the house will help to create charming and alluring walls. Apart from promoting health, they help in making your house look impressive
Since they are living walls, the small green plants act as a natural air-filtering, so you can have an ample supply of fresh air. Also, if you are including green walls in workplaces, you should know that people working in such spaces will always have a great mood as they are greeted with greenery all the time.
(a) Environmental Benefits
The environmental benefits of green walls tend to surpass all the other benefits. It is the environmental benefits that are leading to the increasing popularity of green walls. Even though we have been learning the importance of green plants in our life since childhood, we tend to ignore the importance of plants as we grow up.
01. Balanced Natural Humidity
Green walls are known to regulate humidity throughout the air. Not only does it prove to be fruitful for the interiors but for the exteriors as well. Whether you are installing it indoors or outdoors, green plants release water vapour required to maintain a healthy level of moisture in the air. The inclusion of green walls can help to keep the house cool during summers and hot during winters, marginally. As a result, apart from balancing humidity and moisture, it also regulates the indoor and outdoor temperature.
02. Improved Air Quality
Several studies have shown the positive impact of green walls on the occupants. The green walls help to keep the environment fresh thereby boosting up the mood of residents and promoting productivity. Some of the positive impacts that green walls have include promoting a better emotional state, better task performance, and an improved psychophysiological state.
Living walls are known to enhance the level of oxygen indoors. The leaves as well as roots contribute towards the cleansing process of the environment. The microorganisms of the plant roots are beneficial in cleaning the surroundings.
This further has a positive impact on health by reducing the negative impact caused by dirt accumulation in public spaces.
03. Noise Reduction
Not many may know, but living walls are also helpful in regulating sound in buildings and outdoors. The plant foliage attracts and absorbs any kind of acoustic energy. Thus, green plants help reduce noise in echo-prone areas. The similar kind of benefits are present in outdoor green walls. People are using these exterior green walls to combat the impact of noise pollution due to traffic.
04. Habitat Restoration
The virtual gardens are an artificial extension of nature which further acts as a residence for different species like butterflies, insects, hummingbirds and more. A lot of companies are including larger green walls in the office spaces, which is further promoting the habitat restoration for insects. The lack of habitat for insects is one of the biggest problems in urban areas, but the green wall contributes towards solving this problem.
05. Fights Heat Island
Increase in the heat island effect, particularly in urban areas is proving to be a threat to the urban world. As a result, it is necessary to maintain the temperature for proper functioning. Most of the urban heat islands are occurring due to the absence of adequate greenery in the living spaces, including open spaces.
Increasing the number of green walls in urban spaces can help to combat the heat. They will eventually absorb the heat and cool the entire environment by the process of evapotranspiration. Compared to interior installations, the exterior green walls are proving to be more helpful as they can cool the entire building by preventing heat from entering the buildings. Many countries have now made it compulsory to create green spaces that combat heat islands.
(b) Business Benefits
Apart from the visual and environmental benefits of green walls, one cannot overlook their economic benefits. Some of them are mentioned as under:
01. Lower Energy Consumption
Green walls can play an important role in enhancing energy efficiency as it lowers energy costs. The external green walls contribute towards improving the thermal layer as it has an extra protective layer of green plants. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has launched ‘IGBC Green New Buildings rating system’ which enables the designer to apply green concepts in building design. As mentioned in IGBC Guidelines, the energy-saving could range from 20 – 30 %.
The plants are combined with building materials to ensure that less heat is transmitted. As a result, air conditioning needs are lowered. Similar to the exterior walls, the interior green walls can have a similar impact. Plants will absorb heat and keep the temperature cool, thereby saving energy cost.
02. Better Productivity – Biophilia
The presence of nature in the workplace can help to boost productivity and morale. Green walls bring about Biophilia.
According to ‘Judith H. Heerwagen’, (Published in Design, Productivity and Well Being: What are the Links?) Biophilia refers to an innate instinctive bond between humans and other living things, “the evolutionary ties between people and nature.” Various studies have shown that it is due to the biophilia that many people have noticed a boost in their mental health, low blood pressure and a jolly mood throughout.
03. Better Property Value
Besides reducing heat, the presence of green spaces in your office can boost up the price of the property. Green walls have contributed in increasing the property value. The property owners can market several benefits to the customers such as low energy cost, better sustainability and an enhanced aesthetic appeal as unique advantages.
04. LEED Certification
Green buildings tend to attract more customers than others as they promote environmental conservation. In the US, LEED certification is used to rank the sustainability and design of buildings. Compared to the other buildings, LEED-certified buildings in US tend to sell fast and also are eligible for high tax exemptions. Moreover, the property value is higher as compared to normal buildings. The addition of green walls increases the chances of a building being LEED-certified.
05. A Better Marketing Tool
Green walls are aesthetic, and when it comes to marketing, they enhance opportunities. The green walls tend to attract the attention of people as it has a unique charm. As a result, you can use to leverage your marketing efforts. Green walls tend to have a better visual impact than just plainly designed or coloured walls. Moreover, green walls can further help make efficient use of spaces.
Requirements of Green Walls
01. Irrigation and Sunlight
Most green walls will need an irrigation system in place at the time of installation. The Irrigation system is usually built into the wall and plants are irrigated from the top of the wall, with a catch basin to capture the water below for drainage.
Plants need two things to grow – Water and sunlight. All plants need a minimum amount of sunlight.
While you get excited about the “living wall”; don’t forget that not only it will need regular maintenance, it will also need cleaning regularly.
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Living walls are truly living, breathing works of art. Living green walls are need of the hour. They help to enhance the eco-friendly characteristic of the buildings. With several benefits to environment and health, living walls are reducing the adverse impacts of unchecked concretization and reclaiming the green spaces.
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