Can Living Green Walls help alleviate the impacts of Climate Change?

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Earlier this year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their starkest report on the impacts of climate change, depicting the threats to both civilisations and ecosystems around the world.

The report documented that the effects of climate change have already impacted human health, livelihoods, and key infrastructure, particularly in urban settings. Hot extremes including heatwaves have intensified in cities, where they have also aggravated air pollution events and limited the functionality of urban infrastructure systems and services.

Essential infrastructure, such as transportation, water, sanitation, and energy systems have been compromised by both, extreme and slow-onset climatic events, resulting in economic losses, disruptions of services and impacts on human well-being.

Through an egalitarian lens, the report observed that these impacts are concentrated amongst the economically and socially marginalized urban residents. Climate change is effectively exacerbating existing social, economic, and environmental drivers of risk, especially for vulnerable groups who already lack access to essential services.

The authors of the report, urgently recommend an appropriate, widespread coordinated effort to adapt our urban environments to more extreme climatic conditions.

They believe that by improving existing and new infrastructure projects, our built environment can become more resilient to climate risks in the long term.

One way of achieving urban resilience is by providing greater access to ‘green infrastructure within our cityscapes. Green infrastructure refers to all types of vegetation that provides environmental, economic, and social benefits such as clean air and water, climate regulation and places for recreation.

An example of green infrastructure that can directly limit the effects of climate change within our urban environment is green walls, also termed living walls or vertical gardens. Green walls can form an important part of a wider strategy to increase the sustainability of our built environments by regulating temperatures and improving air quality.

Related: Are Green Living Walls Challenging to Maintain?

Regulating temperatures

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According to Dr Irga, from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia

‘thermoregulation is one of the most researched benefits of green walls.’

He explained that ‘green walls can reduce high temperatures within buildings by intercepting solar radiation and through evaporative cooling.’

Conversely, temperature regulation is not just limited to heat reduction, as the insulation ability of green walls can also be of benefit in cold climates too. Through controlling temperatures, green walls enable buildings to be less reliant upon heaters and air conditioners, resulting in reductions in energy consumption.

Improving Air Quality

The natural, biological processes of green walls can improve air quality in the home and in urban settings by removing polluting air particulars.

The plants used within the green walls can capture airborne particles on their foliage and, with the associated microbial community, degrade a range of gaseous pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs are generated by motor vehicles, fires, industrial processes, and consumer products like paint. Some are highly toxic and prolonged exposure may increase the risk of health problems.

Aside from absorbing VOCs, green walls are also able to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2). All plants including those grown inside, or on the side of buildings, act as natural carbon dioxide filters. They absorb CO2 from the air to fuel the photosynthesis which allows them to grow and thrive. Presently, more research is needed to determine the most effective CO2 absorbing plants for vertical gardens.

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system is the leading green wall product that can directly alleviate some of the risks created associated with climate change, by creating greener, cooler, and more liveable cities.

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Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system embodies nearly

15 years of research, development, and product testing.

The design is available in nine standard panel sizes; however, it can also be engineered to retrofit walls on unique buildings.

The system is designed for quick and efficient installation for large scale commercial projects or smaller residential projects, with minimum disruption. The Living Wall system has irrigation lines embedded in a moisture retention layer to ensure optimal water distribution and water efficiency.

This enables both rapid and healthy plant growth post-install.

The assembly of the Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system incorporates a waterproofing layer, a moisture retention layer, and a breathable fabric layer with pockets for the soil so that a wide variety of plants can be selected and grown within the system.

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The ability to adapt our urban centres to the unfolding risks of climate change is becoming ever more urgent.

Urban populations, particularly those in marginalised areas, are exceedingly feeling the impacts of more intense weather patterns.

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system is a product that once installed, can rapidly start to alleviate some of the impacts of climate change, by regulating ambient temperatures, improving air quality conditions, and absorbing CO2.

P.J. Irga, et al, The distribution of green walls and green roofs throughout Australia: Do policy instruments influence the frequency of projects? Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 24, 2017, 164-174.

Why Modern Day Living needs more Biophilic Design

As leaders in urban landscape solutions, the concept of biophilic design has been pioneered by Citygreen for almost two decades. Our mantra of transforming grey spaces into green, by incorporating nature into cityscapes, goes to the heart of what biophilic design is all about.

The term biophilia was first used by the pioneering naturalist and biologist Edward Wilson in 1984 when he hypothesised that humans have an “innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes.”

This tendency that Wilson speaks to, refers to the bond and deep sense of familiarity that humans and nature share. As a biologist, Wilson viewed life through an ecological lens, comparing lifelike processes to “organisms in an ecosystem.”

He believed that for societies to be functional, their surroundings must be akin to the natural environment that we were evolved in. In the man-made built environments, where most of the world’s population lives today, this sense of connection between nature and everyday human experiences has been slowly eroding.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, lockdowns forced many of us to live in our neighbourhoods and home on a more permanent basis, which for a lot of people highlighted the lack of, and thus need for more innovative greenspaces.

Generally, the term greenspace invokes images of outdoor parks benches and beautifully manicured gardens, which is too simplistic in terms of 21st-century living. The standard approach in the past for town planners was to allocate a certain amount of open outdoor public space for conventional use, such as walking the dog or picnicking.

Yet today, with modern living requirements and conditions, the inter-relationship between greenspaces and greenspaces users has changed. As individuals, we are now spending more time inside buildings of all kinds, than we ever have before. Therefore, when we think of green spaces we should be contemplating indoor communal spaces like foyers in apartment buildings, food courts, and large shopping centres.

An example of a biophilic design that meets the needs of modern-day greenspace users is green walls, also termed living walls or vertical gardens. Such walls are becoming more popular, as they are able to convert underutilised areas into aesthetically appealing green spaces, by merging the natural and the built environments together.

living green wall example of Biophilic Designs

Using straight walls and rights angles to recreate the scenic irregularities of the natural environment, has been a design goal for many sustainable companies including Citygreen. Green walls that incorporate a wide range of diverse plant species are able to artificially reinvent ecosystems, and can then bring the natural world closer to individuals, whether that be in a bustling inner-city workplace or residential apartment block.

Watch our Webinar on green living walls here.

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system is a leading example of a modern biophilic design. Manufactured by the pioneering brand in advanced living wall products, Terapia Urbana in Spain, the Living Wall embodies nearly 15 years of research, development and product testing.

The system can be used outdoors, but indoor walls are by far the easiest, as the microclimate is more predictable, with the installation of artificial lighting, and automatic watering and fertilisation systems. Compared to other green spaces, the water usage for living walls like Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system is low, as it typically requires two litres per square metre per day to irrigate the wall.

The three features that make the system unique, and why it is able to stand out amongst other living wall designs, is firstly the fact that the wall, where the system will be mounted, will need no additional waterproofing. Secondly, the system is the lightest system on the market, weighing only 35kg per square meter fully planted and saturated.

Thirdly, the design is made up of a three-layer panel system that all links together, allowing the roots of the plants to be both protected, and have the ability to migrate freely, enabling almost unlimited root volume for the plants to grow in.

Related: How To Create Sustainable Spaces with Green Living Walls

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The design is available in nine standard panel sizes; however, it can also be engineered to fit bespoke sizes for unique projects. The system is also designed for quick and efficient installation for large scale commercial projects or smaller residential projects, with minimum disruption.

With urbanisation and residential density increasing in our modern-day societies, it is imperative that more cities and buildings be designed and planned in a sustainable way that allows individuals and communities to have equitable exposure to the natural environment.

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system showcases a leading example of a creative sustainable and flexible design that can be used within challenging and ever-evolving modern-day greenspaces.

Learn more – Book Your Free Online Workshop

References: Edward O. Wilson. Biophilia. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA, and London, 1984.

Why you need Citygreen Projects for Urban Renewal Projects

Citygreen Projects is driven by a clear set of values, a passion for exceptional project outcomes and an enduring commitment to innovation.

What we Bring to your Urban Revitalisation Project:

  • Concepts and modelling
  • Budgeting and feasibility
  • Technical design and drafting
  • Documentation and contract admin
  • Project management and scheduling
  • Construction and quality control
  • Commissioning and maintenance

What is Citygreen Projects?

Citygreen Projects is your multi-disciplinary project partner to assist you in urban revitalisation projects through all phases, from conceptual modelling, budgeting, and community engagement right through to design, documentation and then final delivery of construction works.

We work together, blending our expertise and knowledge across urban planning, urban design, and landscape architecture to meet your needs and aspirations. Our advice, services and solutions are well-considered and balanced. We respond decisively to every job and every challenge, ready to help realise a successful outcome that is workable, sustainable, and achievable. We pride ourselves on integrity and commitment and believe in explaining the realities of every situation.

Citygreen Projects on site installing Stratavault for a new tree pit

What Services do Citygreen Projects offer?

Citygreen Project’s role is the creation of sustainable places for people that enrich community life, provide joyful, memorable, and worthwhile experiences, and serve the natural environment.

Citygreen Projects works closely with Citygreen’s DesignStudio, a dedicated and experienced group of design professionals providing services in master planning, plans of management, design for public domain, parks and open spaces, strategy and policy for recreation, open space and public domain, and planning and design for multi-residential developments and estates.

Our process is multidisciplinary, tapping into the extensive experience and insight of experts across our practice. We take an inclusive approach, involving clients at all stages of a project to ensure their needs are met, providing education and insight wherever needed.

father and son enjoying nature and trees

Who does Citygreen Projects work with?

We work with clients (particularly LGA’s) throughout Australia and New Zealand, balancing commitment, creativity, and innovation with award-winning experience. Creating great cities and places to live and work requires an ability to respond to urban and regional development complexity. Our collaborative approach integrates multiple stakeholders and complex interrelationships.

Our services extend across private and public sectors and all scales of projects, from master-planned communities to intimate and engaging interior spaces. Citygreen’s DesignStudio, a team of architects, designers, planners, engineers and environmental scientists, share the technical knowledge and the latest digital tools and resources to bring imaginative thinking to solve clients’ challenges.

Citygreen Projects Manager on site

Why should I use Citygreen Projects to manage my next Urban Renewal Project?

Citygreen assists you in undertaking urban landscape projects from start to finish, so you don’t have to spend the time budgeting & managing multiple contractors. At Citygreen, we have been researching and developing best practise methodologies internationally for decades to help plan, plant and maintain trees in the city and create green space in urban environments.

Citygreen Projects understands how towns, cities, and region’s function. Our aim is to work with you to make them even better, streamlining the planning and design process to ultimately deliver successful, compelling solutions.

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I have a vision for an urban development project, what are the next steps?

Book a free online workshop to learn more about Citygreen Projects. This interactive workshop covers everything from creating large healthy tree canopies faster and more predictably to how to integrate living green wall systems, to incorporating stormwater management and increase the liveability and sustainability of our cities for generations to come, based on case studies, industry research, structural and civil engineering considerations.

Book Your Online Workshop

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8 Reasons You Need Living Green Walls In Your Project

Green walls are one of the latest trends in interior design and with good reason. They are beautiful, healthy, and the benefits far outweigh the costs and maintenance.

If you’ve been following some of the recent building trends, you may realise that outdoor and indoor green walls are now popular. There’s more to the popularity of the green walls than just a great aesthetic look. In fact, there are several benefits of having living walls on the inside or outside of your building. Learn more about those benefits and how having a green wall can help you.

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1. Use Green Walls to Purify the Air

You’ve probably heard the Amazon jungle referred to as the “lungs of the earth.” That’s because the immense, dense foliage of the Amazon jungle converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. And while we all benefit from the chemical process that plants use to create oxygen, there is more that we can do to ensure that our household air is clean and oxygen-rich. Enter green walls.

One of the most significant benefits of a green wall is to improve the quality of your indoor air. Approximately 25% of carbon emissions made by human activity are absorbed by plants, and living walls contribute to that absorption. Plants on the wall filter toxins in the air and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. In doing so, they create a healthier environment for you, your family, and your guests.

Have you ever noticed how an enclosed room or home can become stuffy? The more people and animals that you add, the less breathable the air is. During milder days, you can open a window, but that means shutting off your HVAC or running higher electric bills. An interior green wall can help offset the oxygen use of humans and pets in your home. And as an added benefit, your improved air quality means less eye irritation, fewer headaches, and reduced incidents of illness. If the wall is located inside a workplace, the employees are more productive and will take fewer sick days.

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2. Decrease the Ambient Temperature

Heating and cooling a workspace can be expensive, and during severe winters and hot can take a significant chunk out of your profit. There are many things you can do to reduce these bills, from adding insulation to sealing doors and windows to replacing your HVAC system with a high-efficiency unit. But there’s another simple way to lower your energy bill: living walls. The plants absorb and reflect some sunlight, which cools down the air. As a result, you spend less money on your cooling bill.

Even an outdoor wall decreases the ambient temperature. Many cities have the heat-island effect. This is where the heat given off by machinery, vehicles, and buildings get trapped in a certain area and drive up the overall temperature. Outdoor plant walls decrease the outdoor temperature, which makes visitors more comfortable.

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3. Living Green Walls Reduce Noise

Have you ever noticed how a carpeted room tends to be quieter than one with a tile or wood floor? That’s because sound reflects off of flat, non-porous surfaces. Things like curtains and rugs can make a noisy room quieter. Plant walls have much the same effect. Sound vibrations are absorbed by the plant leaves, rather than being reflected back into the room.

A plant wall absorbs approximately 41% more noise than a traditional wall. Outdoor walls reduce noise from traffic, aircraft, and construction activities, and any other noise that you experience living in an urban centre. Indoor green walls can make rooms less echoey. Whether the wall is inside or outside, it works as an affordable and artistic sound barrier.

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4. Increase Productivity by Bringing Nature Indoors

There are many tactics that employers can attempt to improve worker morale. One of those is changing or improving the décor of the workspace. Workers tend to appreciate significant improvements to the quality of their work environment. After all, they’re spending a significant portion of their days in the same location. If your goal is to improve worker productivity, a living green wall is a rapid and affordable method of increasing productivity. Employees respond positively to more greenery in the workplace.

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5. Make a Building More Fire-Resistant

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As you might expect, green plant walls contain a significant amount of moisture. That moisture makes them naturally resistant to fires. This might seem counterintuitive when you consider brush fires or forest fires, but those usually occur after long dry spells. Plant walls remain lush and green all of the time. By adding a living wall to your building, you make it more fire-resistant.

6. How to Extend the Life of Your Green Wall

Your outdoor green walls are exposed to sunlight, wind, rain, and extreme temperature changes. Over time, the elements destroy your wall. But a living wall protects your structure from direct damage. The life of your wall could be extended by years.

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7. Green Walls Increase Property Value

To make your building more valuable, you can make several changes. However, those changes often come at a high cost. You may need to spend thousands of dollars to get a small return.

When you install a living wall, you make your building more valuable. The natural look is coveted by many buyers. Furthermore, energy savings gives you even more value. A living wall is an investment that immediately starts paying for itself.

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8. Create a Community Feel with Living Walls

A great green wall attracts people and lightens the mood. It brings together neighbourhoods and communities while decreasing aggression and vandalism. To help your building bring together your community, you should consider a green wall.

Read how Sagrado Corazon Hospital, in Spain about how they retrofitted a living wall to improve the atmosphere of their staff and patients

Outdoor and indoor green walls come with multiple benefits. If you’re interested in getting started, you should start doing your research and planning for your wall.

How to make a Living Green Wall?

Citygreen™ Living Wall System is made up of industrially-produced and flexible multilayer modules that are connected to a metallic framework fixed to a supporting wall.

The green wall panels are lightweight, waterproof, and breathable They are attached to a metal frame with an irrigation layer in between to ensure full growth development.

After establishing the Green wall planting, featured plants are placed into your vertical garden and nurtured by these high-quality modules to ensure their aesthetic appeal and full growth development in any urban environment.

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Be Part of the Green Wall Revolution

Indoor and outdoor plant walls protect our environment. While it might not seem like one or two walls can do much to fight climate change, it can help to offset your individual or your company’s carbon footprint. Plant walls may be one of the only truly guilt-free indulgences that are left. Add a little green to your life with a beautiful plant wall.

Watch our free webinar on how to achieve a successful green living wall

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“Our experience, in working with a Citygreen Design Studio was second to none. We found responses from the design studio to be very timely, and technically thorough. We went backwards and forwards a number of times, looking at different iterations of the design and, nothing was too much trouble to examine and explore different possibilities. I would highly recommend the Citygreen Design Studio to any future client considering using your services.”

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"I reviewed all the previous projects that we have installed in the past couple years using your product and I can happily report back that we have 0% mortality in the soil cells, which is incredible!"

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