Blog

The Wild Center-Best Ever Collection of Biomimicry Examples

how nature builds something stronger

 Nature’s been inventing for a few billion years. In that time it has solved some daunting challenges, like how to make energy from sunlight or how to use waste so there isn’t any. Recently humans have started to work at the same tiny scale as nature, and we are beginning to understand how nature builds something stronger than steel without mines and furnaces. The natural world is filled with wondrous ideas. Take a look at the images in this collection to see some cool examples of an endless code of inspiring natural inventions that could help us solve our own complex challenges. More

Give a House Plant a Home!

O24U houseplants with a purpose

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRRjC54FUZU[/youtube]

Fungus Gnats, Fruit Flies, Shore Flies…Oh My!

eliminate the environmental conditions that encourage breeding

By Mike Turany, Plant Solutions | March 13, 20012 | topics: Fungus Gnats, Environmental Conditions

What Gnat is That?

Fungus Gnats, Fruit Flies, Shore Flies, Moth Flies, and March Flies can appear in large numbers in and around buildings. Shore Flies and March Flies will enter buildings seasonally as flying adults, but cannot reproduce in the enclosed building environment.  Fungus Gnats, Fruit Flies, and Moth Flies, however, can enter buildings and develop indoors through all life stages. Their reoccurrence will perpetuate when the indoor environment is conducive to the development of these pests.  None of these common kinds of gnats bite or sting people or animals, but they are a nuisance and do prompt complaints. As your interior plantscape company, the type of gnat that concerns us is the Fungus Gnat, which could continue to live in your plants and be an annoyance. While no one can completely prevent gnats from entering the building, there are simple prevention and control measures that can be taken to ensure that Fungus Gnats will not reproduce in your plantscape.

Whose Gnat is That?

These small flies and gnats thrive under moist conditions, especially where there is an abundance of decaying fruit, vegetation, mulch, algae and fungi. A rainy day, an addition to the landscaping, seasonal color changes, over-seeding of rye grass, or turf re-sodding always corresponds to an abundant population of gnats within a month. Moist and decomposing grass clippings, compost, organic fertilizers, mulches and organic top-dressings like decorative bark are favorite breeding spots; not to mention plumbing or irrigation system leaks, drainage issues, free-standing water or water retention ponds which also continue to provide an advantageous habitat for gnats and far worse pest problems. Gnats may also get brought into buildings while still in their larval stage in cut flower arrangements, fresh fruit and vegetables, and in the soil of blooming houseplants, and interior foliage.

What Can We Do?

Steps can be taken outside of buildings to control areas where organic material or moisture accumulates where there is potential for gnat breeding. And indoors measures can be taken to quickly remove food waste and regularly clean water drains with gooseneck plumbing in kitchens where such debris can accumulate and provide a breeding site for these gnats, especially Moth Flies. Prevention: Eliminate the environmental conditions that encourage breeding:
  • Dispose of all food/beverage waste and containers each evening before you leave the office.
  • Once a week, run hot water and bleach down all kitchen sink drains to remove soap scum and food debris in the drains.  Doing this each Friday afternoon will prevent gnat breeding over the weekend.
  • If standing water is observed outside in the landscaped areas, notify your building/facilities maintenance team to determine and eliminate the cause (a leaky sprinkler head, for example).
  • Resist the temptation to provide your plants with an extra sip of water, ice or any other beverage, especially the sugary ones.
Control: Once Fungus Gnats have been identified, we will:
  • Monitor and trap them with yellow sticky traps placed in on the soil of the plant.
  • Permit the soil to go dryer between our watering to eliminate their preferred breeding environment.
  • Apply Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Powder to the surface of the soil
  • Apply Gnatrol, a biological control agent Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (Bti) when watering, which is toxic only to gnat larvae
  • Replace the plant completely if no other measures prove effective in controlling the gnats.
Please keep in mind that there may be other plants in your, office which Plant Solutions are not contracted to care for, as these are ‘personal plants’ that have been brought in by other office staff.  Please encourage your coworkers who have such personal plants, to also take the preventive steps noted above to reduce and eliminate the opportunity for gnats to breed in their plants.

Why We Need Office Plants

plants contribute to an environment of comfort

Plants add beauty to our lives and temper the harsh aspects of our daily routine. In the office place, where stress often abounds, plants contribute to an environment of comfort, good health, and productivity. Plants make the workplace more comfortable by providing oxygen and by slightly raising humidity levels. Plants also remove harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. Common indoor workplace materials that emit chemicals into the air are: latex paints, foam insulation, varnishes, adhesives, pressed wood, veneer furniture, copy machines, printers, rug pads and carpeting. Today’s workplace environment is often a jumble of cubicles, computers, and crowding. Many people struggle with symptoms of fatigue, headache, dry skin, eye irritation, and coughing. A Norwegian study conducted by Dr. Tove Fjeld explored whether plants make a difference when it comes to these health problems. In this study, a group of people in office cubicles (called group A) were provided with plants, while a second group of people in cubicles (called group B) were not. After three months, the groups were switched. Data was collected for another three months. The study concluded as follows: When people from group A and B had plants in their cubicles, symptoms of fatigue and headache fell by 30% and 20% respectively. Hoarseness and dry throat fell by around 30% and coughing by around 40% for both groups. Skin irritation fell by about 25% for both groups. All over, symptoms decreased by 25% when plants were present. Plants also increase productivity in the workplace. In a study by Washington State University, researchers found that people with plants in their work environment were 12% more productive and had lower blood pressure than those without plants. Recent studies even suggest that plants increase workplace happiness and employee satisfaction. Associate Professor Tina Cade of Texas State University told LiveScience, “We pretty much found out that if you had windows and plants, or even if you just had plants in your office, you were more satisfied with your job.”

click here to read more

Why We Need Plants in Hospitals

gardens in hospitals offer more than just a beautiful environment

By Plant Solutions | December, 2011 | topics: Plants in Hospitals, Studies Plants and gardens in hospitals offer more than just a beautiful environment for patients and employees. Numerous research studies show that plants can have significant healthcare and therapeutic benefits:
  • 2008 – Kansas. Ninety patients recovering from abdominal surgery were assigned to recovery rooms with or without plants and flowers. Patients who recovered in rooms with plants reported less pain, anxiety, and fatigue. They also had lower blood pressure and heart rates and took fewer painkillers.
  • 1995 – California. Clare Cooper Marcus and Marni Barnus used observation, survey, and interview methods to evaluate four hospital gardens. They concluded that the most important benefit of hospital gardens is that they remove stress. This stress-reducing benefit is available to nearly all users of the garden—employees, patients, and families.
  • 1994 – Uppsala, Sweden. Roger Ulrich studied patients recovering from gall bladder surgery. Patients were given either a hospital bed with a window view of trees or they were given a view of a brick wall. Patients with tree views had fewer post-surgical complications, shorter hospital stays, and less need for pain medication.
  • 1990, 1992 – Japan. Nakamura and Fujii conducted two studies where they measured brain-wave activity in people looking at actual plants or human-made objects. Both studies concluded that greenery elicited relaxation, while human-made objects, like concrete, elicited stress.
  • 1991. Roger Ulrich conducted a controlled experiment where 120 stressed people were assigned to watch one of six different videotapes. Each videotape showed either vegetation or no vegetation at all. Physiological measures (blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and skin conductance) showed that the people who watched the vegetation videos recovered from stress in about three minutes. Their recovery was faster and more effective than that of those who watched the other videos.
These studies show that by viewing garden or nature scenes, one can reduce stress in just a few short minutes. Viewing nature for longer periods of time can shorten hospital stays and reduce the intake of pain medication.  

Why You Should Hire a Green Earth – Green Plants Certified Business

shows that you care about the environment

You may own a home or a business, or you may manage an office, a mall, or a hotel. No matter the circumstances, when it comes to hiring an indoor landscaping company, you want to hire a company that is Green Earth–Green Plants certified. Green certified businesses make earth-friendly practices an integral part of their daily operations. To earn certification, businesses go through a thorough assessment to determine if they are operating in an eco-friendly way. They earn points for every environment-friendly practice they already have in use, and then they receive advice on the practices they need to put in place. Eventually these businesses make their operations “green” enough to earn sufficient points for certification. This Green Earth–Green Plants certification program was developed by LEED accredited professional Kathy Fediw. The program is based on an assessment similar to the LEED program for green buildings and is founded on solid research results and published industry standards. It is administered by Johnson Fediw Associates, a non-partisan third party consulting firm specializing in the interior plantscape industry.

Assessment for green certification includes:

  1. Facilities: indoor and outdoor: Is the business using energy-efficient lighting and heating, reducing indoor VOC’s, using water-saving practices, establishing wildlife habitats, and so on?
  2. Transportation: Is the business using hybrid and alternative vehicles and public transportation, establishing routing efficiency, and so on?
  3. Horticulture practices: Is the business limiting pesticide usage, using sound watering practices, and so on?
  4. Recycling and reuse: Is the business reducing landfill waste by recycling plastics, glass, and so on, and is the business composting plant debris?
  5. Social responsibility: Is the business giving back to the industry and the community?
  6. Staff training and education: Is the business educating staff members on eco-friendly practices?
When you hire a green certified business, it shows that you care about the environment. Caring for our environment saves money, improves our health, and improves the quality of the air around us. Over time, caring for our environment reduces the amount of wastes and toxins we put into the landfills and oceans and saves animal habitats. Looking to the future, we can pass on a livable, sustainable environment to our future generations. It all starts with the decisions we make today.

NASA Research on Living Plants Indoors

indoor plants remove potentially harmful gases and pollutants from the air

Common houseplants are more than just common. They beautify our homes and offices, and they also release oxygen and assist in cleaning our indoor environment. NASA research shows that indoor plants remove potentially harmful gases and pollutants from the air. In 1973, NASA scientists identified 107 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air inside a Skylab space station. The VOC chemicals, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, are all known irritants and potential carcinogens. When these chemicals are trapped and unable to circulate, they cause people to become ill with symptoms such as scratchy throat and burning red eyes. This is called “sick building syndrome.” Under the direction of B.C. “Bill” Wolverton, NASA tested a solution to VOCs by creating a BioHome, a tightly sealed building constructed with synthetic materials. Upon entering the BioHome, one experienced “sick building syndrome” until a substantial variety of houseplants were added. Another analysis of the air quality was conducted, and most VOCs were gone. Individual symptoms of “sick building syndrome” were also gone. In the mid-1980s, Wolverton and his NASA researchers conducted studies where they placed potted foliage plants in sealed Plexiglas chambers. Studies showed that the plants were particularly effective at reducing common VOCs, including formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is commonly found in carpet backing, grocery bags, paper towels, particle board, plywood, foam insulation, paneling, and other substances. Wolverton served in his field for over 30 years and retired as a senior research scientist at NASA. After retirement, he continued his work on air quality. At the turn of the century, NASA and the Associate Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) reported on a 2-year indoor plant study where indoor plants were once again proven to be a valuable weapon against indoor air pollution. Eleven popular indoor plants were placed separately in sealed, Plexiglas chambers. Chemicals were injected into the chambers. Golden pothos, philodendron, and spider plant were most effecting in removing formaldehyde molecules. Flowering plants such as chrysanthemums and gerbera daisy did best at removing benzene from the atmosphere. Wolverton said the study further proves that indoor plants provide air purification, and he said more research needs to be done in the future.

“Plants take substances out of the air through the tiny openings in their leaves,” said Wolverton. “But research in our laboratories has determined that plant leaves, roots and soil bacteria are all important in removing trace levels of toxic vapors.”

Wolverton is the author of How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home and Office and Growing Clean Water: Nature’s Solution to Water Pollution.

URBAN AGRICULTURE

turning vacant city lots into farms

The urban agricultural movement in this nation is progressing rapidly. Cities from New York to Seattle are combating economic struggles by turning vacant city lots into farms and feeding their impoverished neighborhoods with locally grown foods. Urban agriculture is the practice of growing plants and raising animals within or around cities. Urban residents usually provide the labor necessary to cultivate, process, and distribute food, and urban residents are often the consumers of this food.  Organic waste can be used as compost, and organic wastewater can be used for irrigation. According to the New York Times, demand for locally grown produce is at an all-time high. Farmers markets are becoming more popular as traditional markets continue to sell inorganic produce and genetically modified foods. Here are some examples of the urban agricultural movement at work:

A Farm at New York’s Battery

A one-acre farm grows at the Battery, and it’s designed in the shape of a turkey. A real wild turkey even lives there—her name is Zelda. The bird-shaped garden is defined by a fence made from bamboo poles originally used in a roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The garden shakes whenever the subway runs underneath. The vegetables grown include broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

Fresh organic produce is grown in this “aeroponic” garden nestled in the rotunda building between terminals. The garden uses a solution of water and minerals instead of soil. The seeds start in containers made of “a natural volcanic ash material” and are moved to tall towers once grown. The garden produces 44 organic vegetables and herbs, and it uses and recycles water.

Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Program

This boot-camp urban garden program prepares inmates for jobs in the growing green-collar industry. Behind razor wire, Cook County inmates manage a three-quarter-acre vegetable farm that produces tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and kale. Inmates receive instruction and certification in sustainable horticulture in partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago. Some cities are building greenhouse farms on urban roofs. Others are forming groups to raise chickens so they can deliver fresh eggs to urban dwellings. Many cities and groups are promoting policies to encourage the growth of farmers markets. According to the USDA, there are now more than 6,000 farmers markets nationwide. Detroit currently has our country’s largest urban farm, but urban farms are being planted everywhere—even on city hall properties.  Obviously, urban agriculture is not just here to STAY … it’s growing!

Vegetated Urban Rooftops

U.S. cities are going “green.”

Gravel. Asphalt. Black tar. Cement. That’s what you get with the typical urban rooftop. But many U.S. cities are going “green.” Fly above Chicago, Atlanta, Portland, and other cities, and you’ll see rooftops displaying aesthetically green wonders. Homeowners and businesses are catching onto this growing movement. A green roof is a roof covered with vegetation. It’s designed for both beauty and energy conservation. A green roof is made up of several layers. It starts with a high-quality waterproofing membrane, a root repellant layer, and a drainage system. The layers vary slightly at that point, depending on the manufacturer, but the plants make up the top layer. There are two types of green roofs: intensive and extensive. An intensive roof is park-like in design. It has walkways and benches, bushes and trees. It’s a heavier, thick- layered system. An extensive green roof usually covers the entire roof with a small selection of plant life. It requires little maintenance and exists solely for environmental benefits. The rooftop of Chicago’s City Hall is an example of both an intensive and extensive rooftop. A green roof has many varied benefits:
  • It brings beauty to the building and to the environment
  • It creates a peaceful retreat accessible to people and/or wildlife
  • It produces oxygen and captures airborne pollutants and gases
  • It retains much rainwater and precipitation, thus reducing the amount of runoff water.
  • It reduces energy costs by insulating in winter and cooling in summer.
  • It helps reduce Urban Heat Island Effect (when cities are hotter than their surrounding regions) by providing shade and removing heat from surrounding air.
  • It potentially increases the value of the building
  • It can last twice as long as a common rooftop. It costs more at start-up, but a number of U.S. cities have policy incentives to encourage green roof building.
Green roofs have been popular in Europe for a long time, and now they’re gaining popularity in the U.S., too. With green roofs, we can conserve energy while creating green environments for our cities, homes, and businesses.

Click here to view examples of green roofs.

Vertical Green Walls are Sprouting up Everywhere!

Eco-friendly vertical green walls

What do chic boutiques, renowned museums, swanky hotels, and private residences have in common? They’re all sprouting vertical green walls that many people consider true works of art! Whether inside or out, free-standing or attached to buildings, vertical green walls are an attractive, eco-friendly alternative to bare boring walls. They’re also a great way to use space that would normally be overlooked. Options abound Strategically placed individual live plants ranging in size from ground covering to small trees are what today’s vertical green walls are all about. But rather than sprouting from dirt in the ground, a carefully constructed and attached support system delivers water and nutrients to the many live plants, succulents and other foliage that form the basis of these living walls. Practically any type of live plants, succulents and foliage can be incorporated into these extraordinary plantscapes including edible plants like vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and salad greens. No place is off limits As the trend in vertical green walls continues to soar, so do the heights of these impressive structures. Today it’s not uncommon to see entire sides of towering office buildings covered in lush live plants. Hotel lobbies and interiors are other areas where vertical green walls are common. Living walls have even sprouted up along sound barriers surrounding highways, on walls where you might otherwise hang impressive artwork, and believe it or not, inside urban lofts and office space. Large or small, inside or out, vertical green walls are sprouting up all over the globe, in locations and eye-catching designs never before imagined. Thanks to technological advances in landscape installation and engineering and the creative imaginations of plantscape artists, this is one sustainable idea that has definitely taken root and is guaranteed to thrive in the right environments.

Click Here to View Examples of Vertical Green Walls

X
- Enter Your Location -
- or -