Monday, February 25, 2008

4 Story biofilter - A Living Wall, University of Guelph-Humber

Business Edge
Mission Green

This wall looks amazing! Four stories of ferns, potato vines, English ivy, and the tropical tradescantia vine. ... umbrella and spider plants, the leathery-leafed silver vase, shiny crotons, hibiscus and benjamin fig.

Orchids and other flowers bloom randomly throughout the year "giving off a feel-good effect of texture, scent and vibrant colour even as the wind howls and the snow swirls outside."

The wall installation was the idea of architect Birgit Siber of Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc., who also designed the building that houses classrooms, offices, labs and an Internet cafe. This was a joint venture with the University of Guelph and Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

As with most innovative ventures...a major selling points of the wall is the potential to save money. "Most buildings maintain indoor air quality by bringing in fresh air from the outside through ventilation systems. In the winter, outdoor air must be heated to room temperature, and in the summer it needs cooling....A biofilter can substantially reduce the need to bring in fresh air by generating clean air indoors. If it is used to its fullest capacity, Darlington estimates it can save 0.3 to 3.5 kilowatts per person in the height of summer and winter."

Another benefit of course is the positive psychological effect of green plants.... Studies from Washington State University found that greening indoor space can reduce absenteeism by 10 per cent and increase productivity by 12 per cent.

The wall requires pruning and trimming so that it doesn't get weighed down so the student at guelph college maintain the wall on a weekly basis. Also, because this is a continuous living research project the student study the plants and filters.

Capital costs: $500,000 for the design & installation
$21,000 annually for maintenance.

Air Quality Solutions has installed smaller biofilters at Queen's University in Kingston, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority head office, and an office building in downtown Toronto, but the Guelph-Humber system is the largest so far.
More reads:

+ University of Guelph

+ Back to Nature- the biowall returns clean air to commercial spaces

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