Along with advantages like air purification and noise reduction, “living walls” are also supposed to help monitor the temperature in new buildings which they’re built into. A recent study now says that they bear the same effect when added to much more aged, standing structures.

Guided by Dr. Matthew Fox, a team at Britain’s University of Plymouth initiated by installing a plant-lined living wall facade on one section of the west-facing exterior wall of a pre-1970s building on campus.

That building included masonry cavity walls, which include two parallel sub-walls divided by an air space. The inner wall was culled from concrete, and the outer wall was brick. The added living wall consisted of linked felt pouches, each one of which consisted of soil and winter-hardy plants.

After gauging the room temperature (and thermal conductivity of the walls) inside the west-facing side of the building throughout a five-week November/December period, it was discovered that the section with the living wall lost 31.4 percent less heat than an adjacent control section. Also, daytime temperatures in the living-wall-covered section had more stability, meaning that they swung up and down less in response to factors like sun exposure and outdoor ambient temperatures.

As a result, less energy was needed to heat that portion of the building.

Living walls can offer enhanced air quality, noise reduction and escalated health and well-being, says one study writer, Dr. Thomas Murphy. The research suggests living walls can enhance substantial energy savings to reduce the carbon footprint of standing buildings.

The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Building and Environment.



Image source: Lloyd Russell/University of Plymouth