Seeing Green…. Buildings
We have been hearing a lot about alternative energy sources, such as wind power, solar power, ethanol, and hydrogen fuel cells; however, there are tons of other green technologies out there.
One such technology, green roofing, has been growing in popularity over the past few decades. This environmentally friendly building technique takes advantage of normally wasted roof space to grow vegetation. The plants also have the added benefit of collecting rainwater and preventing it from washing human pollutants into nearby rivers and streams. A new movement gaining popularity is the green wall. A green wall can be as simple as vines and other fast growing plants held against the facade of a building by a metal scaffold. Newer techniques use small modular panels which are made of small polypropylene containers that the plants can grow from or a geotextile. The geotextile is a woven material formed into small pouches which contain soil or some other growing medium. These modular panels allow sections of the green wall to be easily replaced.
Besides from the obvious benefit the plants have in capturing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen; green walls have a host of other benefits. The plants act as insulation, reducing the heating and cooling costs of the building. In the summer, the plants have the added advantage of evaporative cooling as water transpires from the leaves of the plants. Irrigation systems collect rainwater and deliver it to the plants, preventing rainwater runoff from polluting water sources. These green walls and roofs can even be used to grow edible crops. Creating a more environmentally friendly future is going to take more than just alternative energy sources. Green roofs and walls are just one way to tap into, what is currently, a wasted resource.
For more information and images see this article on Verdant Surfaces.