Ben & Ciara
Green Walls & Their Benefits
Updated: Jan 23
Green walls are becoming more and more popular around the world due to their countless benefits for both people and wildlife alike.
Imagine a world where the sides of buildings, rooftops, bus stops and even interior walls were covered in lush, green plants! Air would be cleaner, busy city streets would feel less congested, habitats for birds, bugs, and critters in between could create a vital ecosystem, and people would feel less stressed. Green walls may not solve all the world’s problems, but they’re a good start for both big cities, and small towns alike to move toward (literally) greener living.
Green walls are becoming increasingly popular in the UK and around the world, but what are their benefits, and how do they work to mitigate the climate crisis? Let’s dive into the beauty and functionality of green walls, as well as their role in creating a greener future both within the UK and across the globe.
Green Walls With Greener Outlooks
Green walls have been proven to have a number of benefits for both our health and for the health of our planet. We have visited a number of these green walls across London and abroad to imagine what would happen if all walls in our cities were to be made green.
It’s important to note that making all or most walls in our cities green would certainly be an investment for cities due to both installation and maintenance costs; however, its long-term benefits far outweigh its cost. Here are some of the incredible powers of green walls:
1. Green walls have incredible thermal properties!
They are fantastic insulators in both hot and cold climates, by both reducing heat loss in the winter and keeping buildings cool in the summer. By absorbing and reflecting sunlight, green walls can reduce the need for air conditioning or heating indoors, and thereby dramatically affect the amount of energy buildings use.
2. They make the outdoors cooler!
Cities tend to be warmer than rural areas due to what’s known as the Heat Island Effect, which requires that infrastructure like buildings and roads in cities absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat, warming up the surrounding air. This is how high concentrations of man-made infrastructure and low biodiversity or greenery create “islands” of higher temperatures. Green walls, as aforementioned, help to both absorb and reflect sunlight, so in addition to helping keep buildings cool, they can help keep the air cool too.
3. They improve overall well-being!
Our cities have been overrun by concrete and steel, which, despite looking clean and modern, is having a negative impact on our mental health and disconnecting us from nature.
Studies have shown that by reintroducing plants and greenery back into our cities, we can help reduce stress and improve our overall well-being.
According to the Harvard Business Review, having a small view of nature increases both workplace productivity, as well as patient recovery rates in hospitals. This means that in places where space may be limited, having green walls can also have a positive impact economically by increasing workers productivity and also freeing up hospital beds.
4. Green walls save lives!
Green walls made up of either a single or multiple varieties of plants can extract carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and many other toxins from the air, reducing the overall amount of CO2 entering our atmosphere and also reducing the amount of toxins we breathe into our lungs.
The Environmental Audit Committee estimates that outdoor air pollution can cause 50,000 premature deaths in the UK per year, and in places like China, this number can be over 10 times greater! Even if green walls can make just a small dent in these numbers, they will not only clean the air, but can also save lives.
5. Green walls foster biodiversity!
Green walls attract native flora and fauna species back into cities where they once resided. A living wall creates an urban habitat for a variety of birds and insects, and offers a variety of plant species for bees to pollinate. These walls are crucial for a city's biodiversity, as they also often offer nesting places far out of reach of predators.
Green Walls Global
Some of London’s most popular areas including Covent Garden, Monument, Paddington, and Victoria all feature several green walls that serve as not only beautiful breaks from the miles of buildings, but also allow the air in these typically congested areas to be cleaner and cooler.
Cities around the world are following suit, and are continually introducing green walls to some of their most famous buildings or popular areas. Here are some of the coolest green walls we’ve spotted across the globe.
Renowned for its green architecture and a year-round tropical climate that supports the constant growth of lush greenery, Singapore boasts incredible examples of green walls, including:
The Oasia Downtown Hotel, is entirely covered by a red skin and allows for plants to grow up the facade and keep the hotel cool.
The Parkroyal on Pickering Hotel, whose gardens and multiple stories of greenery flow over the sides, and create a fantastic urban junglescape.
Spain’s arid climate and fertile environment allow for the growth of millions of plant species across the country. The Caixa Forum in Madrid includes 15,000 plants from over 250 species.
We are particularly excited about the creation of the Citicape House in London, which will take the spot as Europe’s largest green wall (at 40,000 feet!), and has the potential to absorb eight tonnes of pollution annually! It is expected to be completed in 2024.
The largest green wall in North America resides at the Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, and stretches over 390 square metres (4,000 square feet)! This lush mosaic of ferns from around the world, but grown in Florida, is truly a contemporary piece of natural art to behold.
At Claustro de Sor Juana University, one of Mexico City’s largest universities, the term “green wall” is insufficient to describe the incredible, vertical garden art piece that is on display to the public.
Although Longwood Gardens is the home of the largest green wall in North America, the largest green wall in the world is located in Taipei, Taiwan, and measures over 2,500 square metres (nearly 27,000 feet)! Created for the Cleanaway and Shine Green Energy company, the wall works to disguise a sustainable waste disposal plant in the province of Kaohsiung, and was awarded the Guinness World Record in 2015.
Green walls serve a variety of purposes, and offer lasting benefits for both humans and the environment. We hope you feel inspired to take action and encourage the creation of green walls in your city, town, or even office space.
If you want to find out more about green walls and sustainability, then make sure you subscribe to the Going Green YouTube channel, and follow us on Instagram @goinggreenmedia.