The recent hotter-than-average summer is a timely reminder to consider garden and landscape designs that support sustainable energy use while combating the rising cost of energy consumption.
A recent Vicinity Greenwall project in an inner-east Sydney home illustrates this system’s huge potential for reducing energy consumption. Supplied by Martin Kellock Pots & Planters, Vicinity Greenwall's proven ability to support thriving plant life in extremely hot conditions means it can provide critical insulation for external walls, and while the natural heat-deflecting vertical garden is working to cool a building, it is also looking beautiful. Homes, offices and community buildings can gain a dual benefit of growing decorative or food-producing plants while the greenwall actively maintains a comfortable indoor temperature.
A recent study conducted by the University of South Australia found that installing vertical gardens to external household walls can reduce the transfer of heat into the home, with temperatures differing by as much as 12 degrees. Plants reflect light and heat, thereby reducing the overall temperature of buildings when exposed to the sun. They also reduce the amount of heat lost during winter. This substantial thermal effect justifies the addition of greenwalls to businesses and homes seeking to reduce energy consumption. With an initial investment that’s much less than fitting solar panels to the roof (and pays for itself over a shorter period), Vicinity Greenwall will achieve the highest cost savings in times of peak energy demand: the middle of summer and winter.
For the Sydney project, the Vicinity Greenwall was installed to beautify a small courtyard bounded by metal walls and exposed to full sun. A heat-trap space like this is not naturally conducive to a thriving garden. To achieve one, plant choice and reliable irrigation is paramount. The design team at Landsberg Garden Design took care of species selection and Vicinity Greenwall did the rest.
The product’s unique hexagonal pots have been designed to optimise water usage, delivering consistent irrigation for all plants. Conventional vertical garden systems use a drip watering method which doesn’t properly soak the soil. Water delivery can be patchy across pots and evaporation rates are high. As a result, the average greenwall can experience plant death, which brings replacement costs and higher maintenance. Some users might even find themselves needing to supplement with hand watering to keep plants healthy.
The fully automated configuration option means greenwall plants will never run dry. Using a water pump, slimline storage tanks and a timer, water is recycled throughout the whole garden, ensuring plants continually receive additional nutrients.
Principal designer, Barbara Landsberg, notes, “We have tended to shy away from greenwalls as previous systems have been very technically difficult to keep the plants lush and thriving. Clients have a high expectation of a very beautiful, verdant, lush picture on their wall. Other systems are just not reliable. Unless you can guarantee that it will still be looking great in a year’s time, it’s a big risk to take. We don’t have that problem with Vicinity Greenwall.”