Green buildings

Green walls

Image credit: Niek Roozen Landscape

Green walls can be created with vines

Use twining or clinging self-climbers and provide support if needed. Be sure to replace building sand with proper soil so the vines can grow. The advantages of vines are that they grow from the ground up, might need less irrigation, and they can reach a height of up to 20-25m. The disadvantage of vines is that they take a long time to establish. Self-climbing vines include Hedera helix and Parthenocissus tricuspidata (not on north-facing walls (northern hemisphere)). Twining or climbing vines on climbing racks include Ampelopsis, Aristolochia, Celastrus orbiculatas, Humulus lupulus, Wisteria and Vitis.

Green walls can be created using planters

Use climbing and hanging plants and shrubs in the planters. Hang planters on the wall or install ready-made planters with climbing racks. The advantages of planters are that irrigation is needed but the plants can survive if it is temporarily not used, fertilizer can be provided directly into the soil or given in the water, and the results can be seen after 1-2 years.

The disadvantages of planters are that they can be expensive and maintenance is needed a few times per year. Climbing plants for planters include Hedera, Actinidia, Akebia and Periploca. Hanging plants include Hedera and Jasminum nudiflorum

Green walls can be created with facade panels

Use annuals, perennials and small shrubs which grow in special growing panels. “Living wall” techniques include a geotextile cloth with holes and sacks where plants are rooted, vertical hanging plastic plates, facade modules with soil or mineral wool substrate, vertical sedum mats and free-standing wall systems. The advantage of facade panels is that the results can be seen after only a few months. However irrigation is always necessary, the panels are relatively expensive and they need weekly maintenance. Plants for façade panels include hanging plants, annuals, perennials and groundcover plants. Choose perennials and shrubs for leaf form and colour more than their temporary flower colour

Create green walls on new and existing buildings in order to fulfil the need for green where space is limited.




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Conditions for determining wall type

Facadeorientation to the sun, weight-bearing capacity, sensitivity to damp, wind turbulence
Plantingpreferred density, perennial or seasonal, evergreen or deciduous, adapted to dry/wet panels
Irrigationtap water or rainwater, fertilizer, recirculation, distribution after watering, timed irrigation or damp sensor, empty hoses after watering or not
Facade panelsaccessibility to wall, ornamental value throughout the year, necessary maintenance, procedure of replacing panels/plants

Benefits of green walls

  • Improves the indoor climate and reduces energy needs indoors
  • Absorbs noise
  • Offers unique possibilities for design and advertising
  • Insulates the facade against cold and warm
  • Protects the wall from water and sun
  • Helps lower summer temperatures in the city
  • Helps improve air quality in the city
  • Brings nature to the city
  • Creates more views of green in the city
  • Is an efficient use of space for green in the city

…Greenpark Rotterdam, Westblaak is a parking garage in Rotterdam with a 5,000m2 green façade which is due to be completed in 2011. The green façade was designed by Kühne & Co Architektburo for West Star. This is a project associated with the Rotterdam Climate Initiative.



New and existing development

In new development:

Facade panels can be integrated into the building design if planned at the beginning of the building design process and engineered to hold the weight (80-100 kg/m2).

In existing development:

Use vines planted in the ground or light planter systems where the plants can grow on climbing racks against the facade or use hanging plants in planters as a curtain in front of the facade. A planter built in front of the wall (but not attached) is also possible.