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Home > Living Wall FAQ's

Does the Living Wall Require Natural Sunlight to Thrive?

No, the Living Wall does not require natural sunlight to grow. Of course, since we are talking about plants, natural sunlight does help! But part of the initial process is to discuss such needs with you and decide if lighting needs to be installed in your facility. The Living Wall may flourish in any setting, with the proper preparations.

How Efficient Is the Biofilter at Removing Pollutants?

ABOUT VOC REMOVAL

Indoor air quality is a growing health concern in North America, where buildings are sealed to maintain proper indoor climate in extreme weather conditions. This can lead to the accumulation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) indoors that has been related to several health problems. Indoor air biofiltration consists of passing an air stream over a biofilm containing beneficial microbes, which degrade the pollutants. Since higher plants are known for their diverse microbial association in soil, this study hypothesizes that higher plants will play a role in improving biofiltration efficacy. The initial results indicated that the inclusion of plants generally increases the efficiency of the biofilter at removing toluene and methylethylketone. Further, some plants were exceptional in their impact on biofilter performance.

ABOUT CARBON MONOXIDE REMOVAL

Carbon monoxide is a major indoor contaminant responsible for over 1000 deaths a year in North America. Sealed environments such as buildings are particularly at risk for this contaminant. Studies in the 1970's and 80's determined that green plants are capable of fixing carbon monoxide through both the light and dark reactions of photosynthesis. Common bacteria oxidize carbon monoxide, utilizing the enzyme carbon monoxide dehydrogenase. Therefore, controlling carbon monoxide levels through botanical and microbial systems may have merit. Preliminary studies have indicated that moss based systems remove significant amounts of the contaminant from a recirculating air stream.

What Size Living Wall Do I Need?

You can think about the Living Wall System as a pump that sucks out air pollutants from your indoor space. Given enough time, any sized pump could empty an ocean but the problem is that as the Living Wall System is removing pollutants, new contaminants are entering the air as a result of "off-gassing" from furniture and building materials as well as the normal activities that occur in the space. This creates a "contaminant load" in the space. The size of this contaminant load for the indoor space and how 'clean' you want the indoor space are the major factors that influence the size of the Living Wall System to install. Indeed, they are the same factors that must be considered for any air-cleaning system.

Given most residential and office/public conditions, a ratio of at least 1 to 100 for the area of the biofilter to floor area to be treated will give desired affect. Given typical operating conditions, this will mean that one square metre of biofilter will treat 100 square metres of floor space (or 1 square foot of biofilter will treat 100 square feet of floor space). This will give the desired improvement to the indoor environment.

Why Are Green Plants So Beneficial?

The Living Wall System represents a complex ecosystem which infers operational stability and, in contrast to conventional biofiltration, ecosystem diversity which may promote the degradation of a broader range of contaminants. But the question remains, "why include Green Plants?" Well, there are many reasons. For example:

  • Plant material makes an excellent 'packing material' for the biofilter based upon its physical characteristics. The high surface area-to-volume ratios of the plants provide excellent bed characteristics. The high porosity allows for even air flow while high surface area provides for good biofilm contact even with very shallow bed depths (ie < 0.05m).
  • Many alternative conventional, organically-based packings have a limited life span. While supporting contaminant degradation, these other organic materials such as bark/wood mixtures are being degraded themselves. Living plants are a bioregenerative packing medium, constantly replacing itself to maintain a good supply of plant material present. In addition, plant exudates provide alternative carbon sources to maintain biological activity.
  • Plants can alter the composition of the associated microbial population. Careful selection of plants species promotes desirable VOC-degraders. However, care must be taken during the selection process since many plants also produce antibiotic compounds and may actually inhibit biological activity.
  • Plants can quickly adapt to growth on vertical surfaces.
  • The rhizosphere surrounding the roots of the plants in the system contains higher microbial populations than bare soil. Hence, plants are able to enhance degrader populations.
  • Plants can break down some indoor pollutants directly. Plants grown in cell culture could metabolize formaldehyde into cellular components. However, houseplants have limited impact on indoor VOCs due to boundary layer resistance. The incorporation of a biofilter into the air handling system will greatly reduce this resistance and maximize any ability of the plant to break pollutants.
  • Plants may also accumulate airborne contaminants. Organics can either adsorb to plant cuticle or be accumulated internally. Hence, plants may act as a contaminant sink or they may impart some buffering capacity to the biofilter for fluctuating pollutant concentrations.
  • Green plants are a sink for CO2 which is considered an indoor pollutant. Through photosynthesis, they combine carbon dioxide and water into biomass and evolve oxygen.
  • Green plants have been included for aesthetic purposes. Maintaining an indoor 'green' area may increase employee productivity and lower absenteeism.
  • Plants reduce the amount of dust in an enclosed space.

 

How Does the Living Wall Save Energy?

When the Living Wall System is connected directly to your HVAC system in your building, it greatly reduces the level of air exchange necessary to maintain a healthy indoor environment. This avoids the need to warm or cool the outside air to comfortable inside levels, which saves on the energy exerted by your heating/cooling system. In particular in extreme climates, the Living Wall's energy savings capacity is great.

Energy Savings

  • 1 m2 biofilter generate 25 l s-1 of virtual outside air - able to reduce make up air by 60%
  • Reduce peak energy consumption by 0.21 to 0.36 KW per occupant

How Is the Living Wall Maintained?

There are maintenance plans available to service your Living Wall. Usually a visit from a plant specialist once a month is all that's required.

Is the Living Wall Available in My Area?

Due to high demand, and the need to have a maintainence network in place, The Living Wall is not currently available in all areas of the US and Canada. Call your Best of Nature representative to discuss availability.

Are Tax Credits Available for the Living Wall?

At this time tax credits are in the works in Canada and pending in certain parts of the United States. The movement is growing swiftly, fueled by a keen awareness of the money-saving aspects of many eco-friendly building features such as The Living Wall.

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