Green walls have received considerable attention since One Central Park incorporated plants into its exterior. Now, more real estate developers and architects are interested in the benefits of building green walls. While adding plants to vertical surfaces is a wonderful idea that deserves attention, it’s important to remember that a green wall does not automatically mean your building is sustainable.
Making a Green Wall Sustainable
In order to make a green walls sustainable, your inputs must balance your outputs. The benefits that you get from the wall, need to equal the resources that you put into the wall.
You have to think about a range of factors when designing and constructing a green wall. If you don’t, then you run the risk of making an attractive piece of architecture that doesn’t reach sustainability goals.
Choosing the Primary Goal of a Green Wall
A green wall can accomplish several goals, but you always need a main driver that guides your design. Some common goals for green walls include beautification, improving thermal efficiency, water retention, CO2 reduction and biophilia (the human need to connect with nature).
One Central Park’s primary goal is to look attractive so more people will purchase apartments. The building’s green wall provides other benefits, but it was uniquely designed for its beauty.
Choosing a primary goal at the beginning of the design process forces developers to stay on target. For instance, if a green wall’s goal is to retain water, the designers need to choose plants that can do that job. If they choose the wrong plants, then their project fails.
Knowing the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Benefits
Most green walls will offer secondary benefits. If you build a green wall specifically to improve a structure’s thermal efficiency, the plants will almost certainly give you some biophilia and CO2 reduction benefits, too.
Secondary benefits are wonderful, but they’re circumstantial. They exist on the side-line of your design team’s primary goal. You can always tout the other advantages, but you know that your green wall was built to reach an ultimate goal.
By keeping your primary goal at the centre of your design efforts, you can help ensure that you create sustainable green walls that improve the environment. Until you understand the true reason for making your green wall, there’s a good chance that your wall isn’t truly green.
If you are interested in green walls for your next project, speak with a specialist on our design team here.