At Staffordshire University researchers are studying green walls and hedges in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme and different living wall systems in Birmingham, London and the Greater London area, looking at the environmental values of urban green walls (i.e. thermal insulation, particulate pollution, climate mitigation, etc.) with a specific focus on animal biodiversity and air pollution mitigation.
Working relationships have been forged with the main ‘green wall’ commercial companies in the UK (ANS, Biotecture, and Treebox and Mobilane), and experiments are taking place in cooperation with these companies. A study undertaken together with Atkins plc http://www.atkinsglobal.com/en-gb has shown the value of green screens in removing particulates from roadside air.
A study undertaken by Atkins (PDF, file size: 1.68MB)
Taking advantage of this expertise on green walls and experience in the different commercial systems, a Green Wall Centre has been set up within Staffordshire University to offer consulting services and continue research on green walls. The Centre's Director, Professor John Dover, has written a book summarising the benefits of Green Infrastructure. https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415521246
Four PhD students are undertaking research into different aspects of Green Walls. Please see the Research Projects page for further details.
In September 2014 the Green Wall Centre ran a very successful International Conference on Green Walls. For more information, please click on the International Green Wall Conference 2014 link below. The Green Wall Centre's researchers attended the Living Walls and Ecosystems Services conference at Greenwich University in July 2015. See Conferences and Short Courses for further details.
Conferences and Short Courses, including relevant events run by other institutions
What are Green Walls?
Any form of vertical surface which has a high proportion of its surface area covered with vegetation. Examples include:
Stone or brickwork naturally colonised by plants
Green façades: Walls covered in self-adhering plants (e.g. ivy), or those adhering to a support structure by tendrils or by twining stems (e.g. clematis, wisteria)
Modular systems using organic or inorganic growth media, typically watered and fed through irrigation lines
Hydroponic ‘felt’-based systems such as the Patrick Blanc Mur Vegetal type
Retaining walls planted-up with vegetation
WHERE CAN ONE FIND GREEN WALLS?
Green walls can be found in almost any urban situation: covering demarcation and building walls, on bridges, hiding ugly fences, on prestigious new office, retail and accommodation developments and on humble sheds and garages. Freestanding green walls such as hedges and green screens may act as garden fences, as temporary hoardings around development sites, as noise and light pollution barriers. Green walls can also be found increasingly inside buildings whether in department stores, atria, offices or even as kitchen gardens – inside the kitchen.
WHY ARE GREEN WALLS IMPORTANT?
Green walls can potentially deliver a wide range of ecosystem services including improving visual amenity (it is difficult to graffiti vegetation), reducing pollution (noise, particulates, gasses and aerosols), slowing down and reducing stormwater runoff, moderating local climates (heat islands), improving energy efficiency (by improving building insulation and thus reducing carbon emissions), improving mental health and providing biodiversity habitats (which may also improve connectivity).
SHORT COURSES - WHO SHOULD COME?
Anyone concerned with the quality of life in urban areas will find the courses of interest and value. Green walls are an important component of Green Infrastructure – possibly the only cost effective approach to coping with some of the immense challenges currently facing urban areas:
climate change (coping with extreme events e.g. heat-waves, flooding)
pollution (including health impacts)
lack of wildlife habitat
social problems (including mental health) resulting from high-density urban living.
Green walls as a component of Green Infrastructure are easier to retrofit than many alternatives, take-up less space, and can be rapidly deployed.
The green wall sector is exceptionally dynamic with new product developments and insights constantly emerging. The courses are aimed at anyone with an interest in the subject to learn what they can get out of this exciting technology.
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