Living Walls bring much more to the built environment than a beautiful aesthetic – although this in-itself is beneficial, many benefits are those that are unseen.
Living walls are very effective at keeping cities cool – have you ever experienced our own capital city on a blistering summers day? Dust, hard surfaces and noise dominate – and then you may discover a park with grass, trees, flowerbeds – the environment immediately changes, temperatures drop and noise abates. Where space is short living walls bring the same cooling and noise abating effects and it is proven. In tests carried out at the University of Sheffield by Scotscape, the measurement of brick temperature on a hot summers day was over 40°C, a reading taken on the same day at the same time where a living wall had been installed showed a dramatic reduction of temperature down to 20°C. This has two impacts, firstly that living walls will keep the air-temperature around the building cooler through evapo-transpiration and shade and by breaking up reflective surfaces, secondly that the reduced surface temperature on the building will have a big impact on the air temperature inside – reducing energy bills and providing a much more ambient building to work or live in. Thus living walls reduce the urban heat island effect significantly.
Biodiversity is supported by living walls. Our built environment has stripped out nature – leaving animals little or no resources to forage and exist. Creating living walls which are planted for function is crucial – sourcing native plants which support pollinators and birds is a good solution. Our ‘pollinator wall’ which we created with the Charity Bug Life, is planted specifically to attract a broad range of insects and birds and has successfully done so. During our many living wall maintenance rounds we discover nesting birds, butterflies, bees, happily existing, however what is crucial especially for our pollinators is to create channels of foraging sites. In the built environment this can be achieved with functional planting in living walls, green roofs and in traditional landscapes.
In brief, in a world where the urban population is on the rise Living Walls play a large role in making our cities more comfortable and indeed human places to live.