Living walls found to drastically reduce heat loss in older buildings
Along with benefits such as air purification and noise reduction, "living walls" are also claimed to help regulate the temperature within new buildings which they're built into. A recent study now indicates that they have the same effect when added to much older, existing structures.
Led by Dr. Matthew Fox, a team at Britain's University of Plymouth started by installing a plant-filled living wall facade on one section of the west-facing exterior wall of a pre-1970s building on the campus.
That structure already featured masonry cavity walls, which incorporate two parallel sub-walls separated by an air space. In this case, the inner wall was made of concrete, and the outer wall was brick. The added living wall was made up of a series of linked felt pouches, each one of which contained soil and winter-hardy plants.
After measuring the room temperature (and thermal conductivity of the walls) within the west-facing side of the building over a five-week November/December period, it was found that the section with the living wall lost 31.4 percent less heat than an adjacent control section. Additionally, daytime temperatures within the living-wall-covered section were more stable, meaning that they swung up and down less in response to factors such as sun exposure and outdoor ambient temperatures.
As a result, less energy was required to heat that part of the building.
"Living walls can offer improved air quality, noise reduction and elevated health and well-being," says one author of the study, Dr. Thomas Murphy. "Our research suggests living walls can also provide significant energy savings to help reduce the carbon footprint of existing buildings."
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Building and Environment.
Source: University of Plymouth