The phenomenon of living walls covered by plants has been around for a while in Europe and Asia, but it’s relatively new in the United States. Living walls, also called vertical gardens, have become trendy as developers strive to meet more sustainable building standards while keeping their building projects aesthetically pleasing. According to governing.com, about two dozen cities in North America have programs to encourage green roofs, but mandates are now showing up from California to Colorado and New York in an effort to meet energy goals.
In the Building Design + Construction article, “6 Things You Need to Know About Green Walls,” vertical gardens are described as useful in reducing the urban heat island effect, reducing energy consumption absorbing noise, and improving air quality. Support structures range from trellises to frames with wire and rope nets that hold plants in place. Modular systems allow for panels to be replaced if needed. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits are available to companies who use vertical gardens for five different categories:
- Sustainable sites.
- Water efficient landscaping.
- Innovative wastewater technology.
- Energy performance.
- Design innovation.
The recent Bluebeam StrXur article, “Here Comes North America’s Largest Living Wall,” highlighted Texas-based Rastegar Property Company for its 26-story condominium building in Dallas. The building is justifiably part of Dallas’ downtown “Emerald Bracelet” loop of green space because it will have a vertical “pocket park” the developers say will result in the tallest vertical garden in North America. Green design firm Zauben is designing the living wall to include plants that are adapted to the Texas climate.
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Vertical gardens have been described as living architecture which blends the talents of architects, artists, landscape architects, engineers, and horticulturalists. Through their collaboration, the green building movement can be expanded by using green walls for sustainability, natural beauty and organic growth on the buildings and structures they design. Bluebeam Studio Projects is one way to facilitate that collaboration. While operating on the cutting edge of design, projects can include interior and exterior green walls for environmental benefits and green beauty.
In addition, the volume of plant life involved is beneficial for the reduction of pollution, a problem in most large cities. Plants naturally filter air, consuming carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution.
While living walls and rooftops on buildings may cost more up front and require maintenance, long term they provide environmental and economic benefits, keeping buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter and cutting energy consumption and costs.
They also offer city dwellers the chance to live with nature and extend the added benefits of physical and mental health.
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