Sustainability is the hot topic in the construction industry. Architects and interior and landscape designers are now aiming to create more environmentally-friendly buildings and owners want to know their facility is at the cutting edge of sustainable technology.
“Green” buildings are now the emerging trend as more and more vertically sprawling gardens of greenery are springing to life across the world on the exteriors of skyscrapers, in hotel and condo lobbies, office reception areas, and more.
Some of the benefits that vertical garden systems can provide to make buildings smarter, healthier, and more efficient are:
Air-conditioning is a must for our Malaysian climate, and is a significant cost in building operation. Exterior vertical garden walls can significantly reduce these costs by lowering building surface temperatures by as much as 5-10°C by providing a natural layer of insulation against the sun’s heat and UV rays, as well as by the plant’s process of evapo-transpiration which occurs when plants release water in their leaves to cool the surrounding air when exposed to heat.
The biological and material properties of vertical gardens aids building temperature regulation, which minimizes the stress of building heating and cooling systems as well as mitigating effects of Urban Heat Island. This is a phenomenon seen in the concrete jungles of cities where temperatures are significantly hotter than rural areas, mainly due to modification of land surfaces (i.e. less greenery, more concrete).
One of the less heralded benefits of vertical gardens is that their structures can reduce noise levels in buildings. Plants have been used, throughout the world, to reduce noise along roads and highways. Living green walls expands on this concept. The extra layer of insulation provided by the structure and plants of vertical garden systems can reduce noise levels by reflecting, refracting, and absorbing acoustic energy. Plants, planting media, trapped air, and moisture are great acoustic insulators, especially for high frequency sounds. Meanwhile the structure itself (panels) serves to greatly reduce low frequency noise.
Studies have shown that green walls can reduce ambient noise by up to 40 decibels, an important benefit to those who work or live close to noisy streets, highways and airports. This is one of the factors in play when architects and designers aim to provide a level of calm and tranquility into any building with the addition of a living green wall.
Numerous studies conducted by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) over the last 25 years have shown measurable levels of over 107 known carcinogens in modern offices and homes predominantly in the form of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). In extreme cases, some buildings have such high levels of contaminants that they are known as “Sick Buildings” because exposure to them results in multiple symptoms of sickness exhibited by the inhabitants who try to use them. On going research indicates that lessening prolonged exposure to VOC’s and other indoor pollutants can substantially improve long term quality of life.
A simple solution to combat indoor toxins are simple live plants. Plants have an astonishing capability to filter and purify their surrounding air which includes significantly reducing levels of a VOC’s. With vertical garden systems, a large number of plants can be incorporated into any building to provide better indoor air quality without sacrificing valuable floor space. More information regarding the air purifying benefits of vertical gardens can be found here.
“Green” buildings are now the emerging trend, and the recognized authority to certify this claim is the Leadership of Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a standardized rating system developed by the US Green Building Council, that evaluates and validates a building’s strategies and practices used in the design, construction and operation of the building.
The benefits of Green Buildings are all-encompassing:
Vertical Garden Systems can help earn credits towards LEED certification under prerequisites found in the following core themes: Sustainable Sites, Energy & Atmosphere, Water Efficiency, and Innovative Design.