Originally published in Supply Chain Sustainability School
Why have a plain wall or dull facade when you could have a vibrant and verdant vertical garden to gaze upon and enjoy? Green walls, also referred to as living walls or infrastructure, are a growing feature in cities across Australia, and the best news is that we’re still only at the start of this exciting journey into the world of living and breathing cities.
The world’s first ‘breathing car park’ is about to be built in Manly Vale on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest and Australia’s largest green walls were both installed in Melbourne this year and while not in Australia, it’s been reported that Serena Williams’ wedding featured a living salad wall where we assume guests could simply walk up to a wall of delicious greens and pluck off some lettuce at their own discretion. Yum. More of this sort of thing please!
Wedding novelties aside, the benefits of urban living infrastructure are impressive and scientifically backed up, ranging from improved health and mental well-being, to better educational outcomes, improved productivity and concentration, and better air quality, not to mention a much more pleasant urban landscape aesthetically.
However, being the Supply Chain Sustainability School, we never judge anything just on its beauty; we just have to look deeper and understand where all the materials and products have come from, how it was made, where and by whom, and unsurprisingly, it turns out that not all green walls are created equal. From the water usage, to the lighting, to the choice of plants and soil, there can be a significant difference from a sustainability perspective between two similar-looking walls.
So, before you go ahead and greenify the walls in your office, shop or bedroom, we spoke to the team at Junglefy to find out the six most important things you need to think about when planning your green wall project so you don’t end up with a wall that is green from afar, but far from green. They gave us some priorities and examples, based on their own projects, to help inspire our thinking:
1. First and foremost, think about your plants of course. Where and how are they grown? Are they sourced locally or have they travelled from far afield?
Junglefy explain that they prefer to use Australian native plants because they encourage local biodiversity and are often better suited to our harsh weather conditions, meaning less intensive maintenance is required. They also test introduced species, which allow for greater plant variety but don’t use them until they know they will be hardy and well-suited to Australian conditions.
2. What are the system components made from? Your wall might include modules or pots – what are these made from? Where are they made?
Junglefy uses modules to make up the structure of their Breathing Walls and Green Walls, which are composed of linear, low-density polyethylene. Whilst they are manufactured overseas and shipped to Australia they are made to the highest possible standard and are infinitely recyclable.