Living walls are a radical and attractive way to boost a building’s eco-friendly credentials, reduce flooding, and add a splash of green to urban spaces. OfficingToday takes a closer look at one living wall – the largest in London – to find out how it works.
The green agenda is never far from the thoughts of flexible workspace operators. With government groups clamping down hard on the commercial property industry, green measures are no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity.
Greener buildings aren’t just cleaner for the environment – they can also help buildings (and business centres) to reduce their running and maintenance costs, which means lower overheads for operators as well as clients. That’s a selling point worth shouting about. On top of that, green buildings are often more pleasant and healthier to work in, and with features like urban gardens and green roofs, they’re aesthetically pleasing too.
In fact, a green roof – also known as a living roof – is one concept that’s making its way into the property scene. They help to insulate buildings, drain surface water, assist with rainwater harvesting, provide a refuge for wildlife, and they make great outdoor spaces too.
Taking the living roof concept to another level is the ‘living wall’, which is one cutting-edge concept that’s cropping up on the sides of buildings all over the UK and beyond.
London’s largest living wall
In London’s Victoria, on the side of the Palace Hotel, is a dense collection of 10,000 ferns and herbaceous plants soaring skywards. Plants like crocuses, strawberries, spring bulbs and winter geraniums ensure the wall is ‘in-bloom’ all year round, helping to paint the city green, and just about every other colour under the sun too.
This huge living wall covers an area of 350 square metres, and is estimated to hold around 10,000 litres of water.
It comes with a long list of benefits – and chief among them is its ability to help reduce flooding. It’s all to do with irrigation and absorption. Thousands of litres of water are collected in tanks at the top of the wall, and the water is then filtered down slowly through the living wall. Normally, flooding occurs on urban surfaces because the water can’t drain away. But water can now be collected and absorbed through the living wall. The idea is that any water that doesn’t reach the ground contributes to a reduction in flooding.
Living walls also offer other benefits like improved air quality, reduced noise, insulation, cooling during hot weather, and energy conservation.
The project has received support from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, through the Victoria Business Improvement District (BID) programme. According to the Victoria BID, it was kicked off following a Green Infrastructure Audit, a process that identifies new locations for green space in the city.
Why are we telling you this? Victoria’s new living wall is attracting headlines for its size, which represents the largest living wall in London. But it’s also a cutting-edge concept that’s making its way into the mainstream, based on its long list of benefits. There’s no time like the present to seriously consider greener alternatives, and even if environmental conservation isn’t on your priority list, cost-saving measures certainly should be – and ‘green’ measures like this are one way to help cut your energy bills and please your clients at the same time. Isn’t that a win-win situation?
We’d love to hear from any workspace operators that are pushing the boundaries with new, old, innovative or tried-and-tested methods to save energy and cut costs. Do you have green walls or roofs? What’s your green agenda? Have you noticed cheaper bills since installing certain green measures? Get in touch – we’d love to feature you on OfficingToday.
Image: Mickey Lee | Victoria BID