favorite methods takes advantage of biofiltration
By Plant Solutions | July 2010 | Topics: Living Vertical Greenwalls
Joe Zazzera, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), is probably way too young to remember the cartoon character Yosemite Sam. Yet, like this Warner Brothers creation, he, too, sees golden opportunities. His, though, don’t reside in the western hills; they reside in urban landscapes in virtually every city in the country. Zazzera, president and CEO for Arizona-based Plant Solutions, is excited about transforming interior walls into plantscapes. “At one location, we’ve installed a small green wall to replace our client’s use of cut flowers,” he explains. “Live-plant walls are different, pique interest, and they are a practical use of available space.
“With real estate costs going up, architects are designing away atriums and other garden areas in favor of revenue-producing space. Live-plant walls don’t take up valuable space. They are also very attractive and functional, providing the same air-quality benefits that other indoor gardens provide.”
Zazzera notes that interior plantscapers can employ any of several different methods to install green walls. One of the favorite methods takes advantage of biofiltration. The green wall is constructed of a special, foam-like medium. Water is circulated through the medium via a small water fountain beneath the wall. In this scenario, the customer gets the benefits of two features — a green wall and a water feature.
“Green walls are new and exciting, and they’re not budget breakers for clients,” Zazzera goes on to explain. “In some cases, if you’re replacing cut flowers with a small, live-plant wall, the cost is already in the budget. On average, it will cost your clients around $100 per square foot for installing a green wall, or they can choose to lease one. As always, maintenance is key.”
Riding the Green Wave
Green walls are not the only new opportunities for interior plantscapers, says Zazzera, who is actively involved in trying to get interior plants into the LEED rating system. Installing and maintaining green roofs has potential for industry members, as well. “We already have a working relationship with architects and building owners,” he emphasizes. “The truth is that intensive green roofs, those that are heavy and require additional engineering to install, are less common today than their extensive counterparts.” In other words, you don’t have to be an architect or engineer to install every green roof, says Zazzera.
Green roofs come in all different shapes, sizes, and complexities. They do have their challenges, he emphasizes, not the least of which involve safety concerns working on roofs and maintaining plants in a sometimes hostile environment. A good place for beginners to start is to access the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Web site, greenroofs.org. The group is a valuable resource for learning about installing green roofs, and obtaining its Green Roof Professional designation will help interior plantscapers get their “foot in the door” of prospective clients.
The fresh opportunities presented by green roofs and green walls align with growing interest in sustainable landscapes and environments. As Zazzera relates, buildings already receive LEED credit points for having green roofs that reduce water runoff, provide additional insulation, and reduce the heat island effect. He chairs an advocacy group that’s lobbying the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to award LEED credit points for interior plants, also. When that day arrives, he points out, green walls and green interiors overall will be even more attractive investments for building owners.