I recently started work on my first interior green wall. In comparison to other sustainable upgrades the interior green wall itself is rather simple and the health benefits are many. The green wall acts as an air filter for the space. Plants through the process of photosynthesis produce oxygen and remove toxins in the air. More oxygen and less toxins have great effects on health, productivity and indoor climate.
There are a couple different systems for creating a green wall. The system we are using is PVC Panels on aluminum framing with 2 moisture retention mats on top of the PVC Panels. The second layer of moisture retention mats get slits cut in it and plants inserted into the slits. That is it for the wall, very simple.
The other system that I looked in to was gsky. This is an all in one panel that includes lines for plumbing and cubbies which the plants sit in horizontally . Below is a picture of the gsky system. We probably would have used this system if it was more readily. As I said in my earlier post, it is very difficult to get most sustainable materials. The gsky system has a lead time of about 3 or 4 months.
The difficult part is the prep and maintenance of the wall. The wall requires plumbing to provide the water and drainage, electricity for additional lighting, and monthly maintenance. You can plan on losing 20% of your plants in the first couple months as the plants adjust to their surroundings and the lights and irrigation are adjusted to create the correct temperature and climate.
The cost of green walls are usually about $160/sqft, but that does not include the extra lighting, plumbing and maintenance requirements. Monthly maintenance varies with where you are and what is included. I would recommend paying the extra for a maintenance contract that includes plant replacement, at least for the first year, because everyone I have talked to says to expect 20% of the plants to die.
The climate inside a space is most effected by the green wall. The plants produce oxygen and remove harmful pollutants. This results in a healthier inhabitants. Studies of green walls have shown that employees use less sick days as the result of having a green wall in the space. The indoor environmental air quality effects is extremely important today as builders construct buildings that are tighter and contain more chemicals. The result is sick building syndrome in which less ventilation and indoor chemical pollutants literally make the inhabitants sick. Green walls also effect the energy usage of the buliding. They add another layer of insulation to the building. This keeps hot air out in the summer and the cold air out in the winter. In addition to insulating the space plants help lower the indoor temperature through transpiration of water from their leaves. Besides the health and energy benefits, views of green walls have also shown to increase productivity and decrease stress.
It is amazing the effect plants can have on us. The intrinsic connection of humans to nature is very strong and just viewing plants can have positive effects on our stress levels, productivity and rehabilitation. Add to that the actual effects of the improved indoor air quality and reduction of energy needed to heat and cool the space and the benefits seem to out number the costs. I will post pictures of the wall once it’s complete and hope to working on many more of these in the future.