Green walls: A unique opportunity for water tanks

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In the face of climate change and growing urbanisation, organisations in the public and private sectors are trying to make buildings more sustainable. Green walls, building facades comprised of soil-grown vegetation, offer interested parties the chance to reduce a structure's environmental footprint.

These systems require many components to function properly. According to a paper released by Victoria's Department of Environment and Primary Industries, green walls use water collection tanks, drainage, pumps and filtration assets to deliver nutrients and water to plants on a continuous basis.

Benefits of green walls 

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries outlined the advantages of installing green walls, one of which is their ability to reduce artificial heating and cooling consumption. 

Glass, concrete, brick asphalt and roofing all have high thermal mass, meaning they aggregate sunlight throughout the day and radiate it throughout the surrounding area. In contrast, green walls shade these materials from the sun and reduce ambient temperature gains through evapotranspiration, which occurs when the sun evaporates water transpired by soil and plants. 

Green walls also help to filter out air pollutants by removing particulates. Plants with dense foliage are best suited to this task. In addition, a study conducted by Clara Gerhardt and Brenda Vale of the Victoria University of Wellington's School of Architecture found that green walls provide homes to local wildlife. 

Installation considerations 

As mentioned, green walls are quite intricate, and require constant monitoring from building administrators. Ms Gerhardt and Ms Vale tested the material intensity of four different green wall designs, three of which used water drips over substrate-based panels. 

Each panel was perforated, supporting root growth and water penetration. The panels were organised into shelves, under which were distribution systems that directed water to water tanks. Pumps would then redirect the unused water to panels. 

Choosing the correct components for green walls is imperative. For instance, procuring polyethylene water tanks may keep maintenance costs low, as these assets resist deterioration. 

By Gerald Beckton 

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