The many benefits of greening indoor and outdoor spaces are starting to become widely recognised. We know plants boost wellbeing and productivity, improve air quality, protect building structures and enhance acoustic qualities. But one particular advantage of greenwalls – thermal insulation – is grabbing headlines right now thanks to recent research conducted at the University of South Australia.
UniSA PhD student Rosmina Bustami investigated the potential energy savings gained from fitting vertical gardens to external household walls. The walls not only soften a harsh façade, providing an attractive feature, but “can reduce the transfer of heat into the home with temperatures differing by as much as 12 degrees”, says Bustami. Read more about her findings here.
Plants reflect light and heat, thereby reducing the overall temperature of buildings when exposed to the sun. They also reduce the amount of heat loss during winter. This substantial thermal effect justifies the addition of greenwalls to businesses and homes seeking to reduce energy consumption.
The UniSA research echoes the thermal benefits greenwalls are known to bring to the wider context of heat islands. Usually found in urban areas, heat islands have little green space, but plenty of buildings, roads and parking lots. These hard, man-made surfaces absorb heat but don’t release it, unlike vegetation which provides cooling shade and evapotranspiration.
For homeowners, greenwalls have the direct potential for cutting energy costs. With an initial investment that’s much less than fitting solar panels to the roof (and pays for itself over a shorter period), residents can install a Vicinity Greenwall to reduce energy usage. Cost savings are most noticeable in times of peak energy demand: the middle of summer and winter.
If your client is considering a vertical garden for its decorative qualities, be sure to remind them of its quantifiable thermal benefits. Apply greenwalls to hot, north and west facing walls for a cooling, thermal insulating effect. Educating your clients on these benefits is especially useful for those homes with no outdoor space to plant a shade tree or establish a traditional garden for thermal protection.