How Does A Living Wall Reduce Energy Consumption?

Sustainability is at the heart of today’s building development with most architects and property managers integrating sustainable elements into their designs and properties. This increased focus on these practices aims to tackle many environmental issues, such as reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, while improving indoor air quality and enhancing a building’s aesthetics. One growing integration that offers a solution to these challenges is the biofilter living wall, which goes beyond the aesthetics of a regular green wall by also offering significant building and environmental benefits.

Plant wall in office

The Role of Ventilation and Energy Consumption

Ventilation plays a double-edged sword role in building energy consumption. While it’s crucial for maintaining good indoor air quality and occupant health, constantly replacing air with conditioned outside air can be an energy drain. In colder climates, heating up the outdoor air requires significant energy, while in warmer climates, cooling it down is equally demanding. Therefore, striking a balance between adequate ventilation and minimizing energy use is a key challenge in building design and operation.

Traditional Ventilation Systems

Traditional ventilation systems work by continuously pumping outdoor air into the indoor environment. This process dilutes the indoor air and the contaminants of concern within the indoor space, ensuring the building meets ASHRAE standards for healthy indoor air quality. However, this approach comes at an energy cost.

Biofilter Living Walls to Improve Indoor Air Quality

A key feature of a biofilter is its ability to act as a natural air purifier. When planted hydroponically (without soil), the plants in the wall can absorb and filter harmful pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter, from the indoor air. By actively circulating air through the plant root zone, microorganisms living in the root zone can capture and consume the toxins we would otherwise be breathing. 

Biofilters that integrate into the HVAC system of a building also enable the recirculation of indoor air. This means that less outdoor air needs to be introduced into the building to maintain air quality standards. By reducing the volume of outdoor air intake, energy consumption related to heating or cooling that air is also minimized.

Living wall biofilter on university campus

In the case of the biofilter system used by New Earth Solutions, they can help reduce building ventilation requirements by up to 47%. This staggering reduction proves that living walls offer more than just visual appeal; they can play a vital role in reducing energy consumption in buildings. As we strive for greener and more efficient buildings, incorporating biofilters into our architectural designs becomes a promising solution to create healthier indoor spaces.