Indoor green wall trial to assess health and environmental benefits

A London co-working office building has installed an 240-plant indoor green wall as a trial to measure the health benefits of indoor horticulture.

Image: Build Studios
Image: Build Studios

Build Studios in the Waterloo area of central London, which provides office space for built environment professionals, decided to install the green wall to create what the building owner calls an eco-sanctuary for workers.

Biotecture UK installed in the 2460mm by 2290mm Botanic ART wall at the co-working space, which features 240 plants including climbing fig, green ferns and English ivy. The Peace Lily plant is also included - one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain - but also identified by NASA as the plant most appropriate to be taken to the international space station due to the very high tolerance it has to absorbing air pollution.

Build Studios director Helen Santer said: "We are very excited to be trialling the impact plants can have on office well-being and air purification. We know plants reduce stress levels and absenteeism, and that certain plants can improve air quality. So far, everyone at Build Studios has reacted favourably to the living wall."

The environment at Build Studios will be monitored - to ascertain whether there are benefits in terms of air quality following its installation. Some of the plants chosen are particularly effective at air purification, removing significant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene and formaldehyde from the air.

Biotecture UK irrigation specialist Tim Wraight said: "The Botanic ART wall allows a large number of plants to be grown in a small space, and is ideally suited to offices. It also requires no construction work or landlord approval, so is a fairly stress-free way of incorporating green infrastructure benefits into a building or living space. It’s a great example of bringing nature inside."

The wall is being mapped by one of the Build Studios members, Bill Clee of Asset Mapping, who said: "The living wall is a great addition to Build Studios. Air quality has a huge impact on people's wellbeing and can therefore enhance a company's performance. The living wall also gives us an opportunity to measure the CO2 and air quality in the space using sensors. Nature can help us just as much as clever tech in delivering a smart building."

According to the companies, incorporating green infrastructure within buildings, especially in urban areas, has been shown to reduce stress levels and absenteeism, increase concentration, remove significant volatile compounds (VOCs) from the air and reduce CO2 levels by between 10 and 25%.

Build Studios is also currently partnering the Adaptation and Resilience in the Context of Change (ARCC) and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) 2017 Green Infrastructure Design Challenge, which seeks to demonstrate that green infrastructure benefits don’t need to remain outside a building.

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