There are many definitions of ‘green’ as it pertains to buildings, but the latest sustainable lifestyle trend toward living walls and living roofs has the ultimate credentials in low-impact living. Rather than being quite literally a statement façade, there are sound reasons for bringing plants into our architectural designs.
Living walls and roofs – otherwise known as green walls and roofs or even ecowalls and ecoroofs – can be either free-standing or attached to wall and roof surfaces, in horizontal or vertical designs and can be planted in soil or use hydroponic systems to provide drip irrigation to the plants selected for the design.
Green walls are typically built using a suitable skeletal structure of supports and watering grid to keep the plants healthy. Choosing the types of plants to hang on green walls is much like choosing a paint colour – only with much more variation possible. The benefits of bringing green walls into living spaces are manifold – from cleaning the air we breathe to reducing ambient noise that would ordinarily bounce off of hard walls, to providing an aesthetically pleasing natural environment.
The temperature fluctuation control, insulation and UV light reflection properties of green roofs are where nature really comes into its own – reducing household energy requirements for climate control in the process. The collective benefit of green roofs in an urban area is the reduction of what is called the ‘heat island effect’ that occurs in cities, where a typical lack of vegetation causes urban areas to be considerably hotter than naturally green areas.
For buildings with suitable rooftops, green roof designs can provide even more benefits, from vegetable planter boxes to natural climate control and a beautiful private recreation space that increases a home’s traditional living area. Adding green walls and green roofs is one way to eliminate ‘sick building syndrome’, which can be summed up as that dreary feeling of living in an artificial environment that is both boring and adds nothing to our health and enjoyment of living. This is especially the case where green walls can be added to office and workspaces.
“Even adding plant boxes, trellises and green trims to a living space can make a considerable difference to one’s quality of life. Not every house is perfectly suited to installing a fully green roof, but we are certainly seeing how property owners are becoming creative with using building materials to bring nature closer to the home,” says the CEO and co-founder of building materials group Eva-Last, Marc Minne.
“Sustainable living elements in homes are now fetching a premium on the market because of the range of features they provide, from energy cost reductions to aesthetic beauty and health benefits. We are pleased to see so many people using Eva-Last’s environmentally sustainable products to form the frameworks for green installations,” he adds.
Eva-Last’s composite building products combine the fast-growing and easily replenished fibres from bamboo with recycled plastic and aluminium materials to provide light, structurally strong and durable building products such as cladding, decking and architectural beams, which are synergistic in designing and creating a green living environment.
“Sustainable elements are changing the face of the urban landscape by providing both new and retrofitted green elements that bring the natural functions of vegetation into our living and social areas. This trend is long overdue, given the benefits greenery has for improving quality of life, decreasing stress and smoothing the flow between natural and built areas to make sure that our cities are sustainable,” says Minne.