Here's why we believe in our natural living wall system (and it's backed by research).
The power of soil cannot be overstated. Using a natural substrate means we have greater flexibility in plant selection, allowing for native species, pollinator planting and sources of nectar. This creates a habitat for bees, burrowing insects and encourages natural colonisation. Our organic soil substrate also includes green waste, furthering the sustainability of the project.
We do not use harmful chemicals to keep our living walls healthy. This means no toxic run-off and a naturally flourishing installation with minimal intervention.
Green infrastructure filters out up to 95% of the pollutants generated by vehicles and industry and living walls are a powerful method to aiding air purification, covering a large expanse of otherwise wasted façade, and unlike traditional landscaping, without taking up precious space. Research has shown that 1m² of vegetation cover generates the oxygen required by a person throughout the year whilst trapping 130g of dust annually. Another study in 2012 highlighted how vegetation in the streets was able to reduce the street-level concentrations by as much as 40% for NO2 and 60% for particulate matter (PM).
With a living wall system based on natural soil, we can capture these benefits as the soil plays a key part in absorbing and filtering pollutants.
Social & Economic Benefits
Planting patterns with varied species provide a stunning alternative to common building products. Green walls are a flexible feature and can either be made to blend in to the surrounding architecture or can be made an outstanding centrepiece of a design. Effective lighting and plant choice will make the wall stand out even more. The Viritopia Living Wall system is pre-planted so will give instant impact from the day that installation is completed.
Presenting your brand logo with foliage is a unique environmental statement. Not only can it reflect a brands sustainability policy, but it can also help justify the expense of a living wall.
Enhancing public areas can reduce vandalism including graffiti. Can have a further positive impact a living wall has both on physical health and mental wellbeing. Studies have noted 7-8% less crime in areas with access to nature and increases of 4-5% in property price.
Studies have shown that having plants around a building can increase real estate values by up to 20%, and living walls can also help secure planning permission. The use of vegetation leads to increases in rental rates on retail spaces with an increased customer spend of 8-12%, as well as improving the efficiency of buildings which makes them more financially attractive.
Health & Well-being
In an office with natural themes present, efficiency increases of up to 8% were noted, along with rates of well-being up by 15% with notable increases in creativity, decreased absenteeism and stress-related illnesses.
More than 90% of a company's operating costs are linked to human resources, and financial losses due to absenteeism account for 4%. The main reasons for work related absences are stress and psychological problems. Employees with no view of nature take an average of 68 hours per year of sick leave more than those who have a view.
That's why nature is important in the workspace.
Structural & Regulatory benefits
Planning Policies & Regulation
Solve regulatory challenges and planning conditions by designing the wall to hit the environmental targets. Living walls also help to achieve building standards such as BREEAM and WELL. We also have experience with working on projects to aid compliance with Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), Urban Greening Factor (UGF) and working with a Circular Economy approach.
Every project is bespoke so we design the feature to fulfill it's purpose, for example, we can design a living wall with a plant palette that has a sole focus to provide for biodiversity, with 100% of the species providing significant biodiverse value.
Our modular system gives us huge scope for creative design (for example, allowing us to create curved living walls), and ensures dense coverage with 96 plants per m². Designed to allow root migration, this means the plants can grow healthily with a longer lifespan.
Protecting structures from both ultraviolet rays and acid rain is becoming increasingly important. Many buildings must stand up to driving rain, temperature changes, direct sunlight and corrosive dust particles in the air. Living walls provide a natural answer to these considerations. The combination of plants and soil provide effective protection against rain and wind, furthermore 50% of solar energy is absorbed by foliage and a further 30% is reflected. When compared to cladding, paints and other building coatings which deteriorate, green walls can be an effective solution for the long term sustainability of a structure.
Whether indoors or outside, plants absorb and deflect noise. In independent tests on living walls, walls of a modular design (including the Viritopia Living Wall system) were proven to absorb sound better. In one study, an 80mm thick green wall reduced noise by 15dB.
Green walls reduce the ‘urban heat island’ effect in cities. They also act as insulation helping to regulate a building’s temperature, keeping it warmer in Winter and cooler in Summer. According to the London Living Roofs and Walls Report 2019, densely planted green walls saved 59% of energy required by a building, and in hot, dry summers, green walls have been shown to reduce the temperature of the external building wall behind them by as much as 16°C.
One study shows that where there were living walls, a daytime average temperature decrease of 3.0°C was noted. These decreases increased to 6.6°C when both roofs and walls were covered with greenery.
Top Fire Rating
With the highest possible fire rating for a living wall at Class B-s2-d0, our living wall system can be integrated into all buildings, apart from residential buildings over 18m. Our modules have been upgraded to be completely fire retardant and we’ve worked on creating a living wall strategy guide to help you understand where a living wall can and can’t be integrated - get in touch to find out more.
As we commence our 3rd living wall with Viritopia the sensible design approach and pattern of working is becoming clear and the value added by their expertise and advice in the detailed decisions relating to species selection and each installation is vital. Viritopia have helped us maximise the effectiveness of what we are trying to do and in doing so have created beautiful outcomes.