The living wall – an initiative that brings together engineering and art
27 March 2017
A living wall in London
SAP Landscapes was established in 1976 and is Ireland’s largest landscape and grounds maintenance contractor. Last year, SAP celebrated its fortieth year in business with its impressive ‘Orchard in an Hour’ community initiative, which saw over 100 orchards planted simultaneously around Ireland in a single hour.
SAP’s current award-winning customer list includes the most prestigious business parks, pharmaceutical grounds, educational institutes, local authorities and hotels, as well as private gardens.
SAP has always been a leader in its field, in terms of the superior work it is renowned for carrying out, and for its innovative mindset oriented towards new products. Most recently, SAP has secured an agency for a superior ‘living wall’ system through a close relationship with Scotscape Landscaping Limited, a market-leading company with vast experience of living walls in the UK.
Living walls have many benefits that go far beyond their pleasing aesthetics. They bring together science, engineering and art to promote health, well-being and biodiversity within the built environment.
Benefits of SAP’s second-generation living wall
- Green aesthetics
Living walls create a ‘wow’ factor unrivalled by other interior or exterior finishes. They are not only beautiful, but they also help companies communicate green credentials to their customers. Championed by well-known retailers, hoteliers and commercial businesses, green walls demonstrate a company’s sustainability targets and corporate social responsibility.
- Improved air quality
Living walls breathe air into cities and purify interior air – leading to improved working environments and happier and more productive staff. The University of Lancaster found living walls to be more effective than trees at reducing nitrogen dioxide in dense urban areas with high pollution levels.
This is due to the nature of city landscapes, where the tall buildings create ‘street canyons’, which trap pollution at the street level. Living walls can increase the deposition rate by as much as 40% of nitrogen dioxide and 60% for particulate matter as cleaner air from above the street canyons is introduced.
- Improved urban biodiversity
Living walls can ‘mimic’ biodiversity in areas where green has been stripped away and replaced with the built environment. In doing so, they rebuild the support systems for insects and birdlife.
- Reducing the urban heat island effect
Heat islands occur on the surface and in the atmosphere. On a hot, sunny summer day, the sun can heat dry, exposed urban surfaces, such as roofs and pavement, to temperatures 50–90°F (27-50°C) hotter than the air, while shaded or moist surfaces—often in more rural surroundings—remain close to air temperatures.
Adding living walls and green roofs to urban structures mimics the conditions presented in rural surroundings, and mitigates the urban heat island effect and making cities more temperate in the summer months.
- Flood mitigation
Living walls are absorbent along-with green roofs and rain gardens – absorption helps to slow down rain water run-off, making urban areas less prone to flash flooding.
- Reduction of noise pollution
Living wall structures can reduce noise levels in buildings. Plants are regularly used to reduce noise on motorways and within urban environments. Living walls reduce noise levels by reflecting, refracting as well as absorbing acoustic energy. This further assists with reducing stress in working environments leading to happier healthier staff and improved staff retention.
- Living walls provide great insulation
Living walls keep buildings cool in the summer and warmer in the winter – creating proven energy efficiencies. The product research and development programme undertaken at the University of Sheffield specifically included research into the thermal benefits of living walls. This year-long study exposed irrefutable evidence of the effectiveness of living walls to cool buildings in the summer and insulate buildings in the winter.
The SAP living wall is a lightweight semi-hydroponic modular panel system constructed from a patented advanced geotextile fabric. Each square metre holds up to 49 plants in individual pockets. Each panel incorporates a dripline to irrigate the plants through the fabric.
Panels can be fitted to flat or curved surfaces and are planted on site. The system is designed for rapid installation by a small specialist team, minimising on-site disruption and downtime.
- Full design service available
- For use in commercial or residential projects
- Available in five panel sizes or bespoke to suit individual projects
- Suitable for exterior or interior use
- Available if required with integrated insulation to increase building U values
- Maintenance contracts (highly recommended)
- Ten-year product warranty
- Old Billingsgate, London
Size of project: 65m2
Cost: approximately £30,000
The brief: to incorporate a living wall at a temporary corporate event in minimal time
Time: Installation of this huge wall took only two days adhering to strict event build up guidelines
To be able to include living walls within an events environment is one of the many benefits of the SAP system. The fabric is lightweight, flexible, easy to install and supports fantastic plant growth in both exterior and interior applications. The flexible nature of the system means that it can be applied to curved surfaces with ease.
- Webber Street, London
Size of project: 18m2
Cost: approximately £7,200
The brief: to transform an otherwise bland roof terrace for the benefit of employees and clients.
Time: installation of this project took 2 days
Incorporating Living Walls in working environments brings many benefits to staff including reduced stress, improved air quality and reduced acoustics – creating happier working environments.
Size of project: 30m2
Cost: approximately £12,000
The brief: to incorporate a living wall on this Victorian building safely whilst not compromising the original structure
Time: installation of this system including the fitting of a separate steel sub-frame took five days
The Epping store is just one of many Marks and Spencer Living Walls across the UK of which eight have been installed by SAP’s living wall partner Scotscape Landscaping Ltd.
Living walls are suitable in any indoor or outdoor setting, but fit particularly well in an urban environment where land available for ecological use is limited. A vast amount of construction is taking place around the world today, especially in cities. The world’s cities make up only 4 per cent of the Earth’s land, yet they are home to more than half of the world’s population. By 2030, that percentage is expected to swell to 60 per cent.
For cities to become sustainable, the current system must adhere to 21st-century solutions. The European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) requires all new buildings to be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) by 31 December 2020, and all buildings acquired by public bodies by 31st December 2018.
The design, construction, and maintenance of buildings is key to the improvement of expanding urban life, and can be achieved by integrating green spaces such as living walls into structural designs.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2017/03/27/living-wall-sap-landscapes-ireland/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/living-wall-london.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/living-wall-london-300x300.jpgSponsoredenvironment,planning