Air Quality

Integrating livingwall systems into the air conditioning systems of buildings creates a symbiotic system for purifying the air, combining technology and biological processes.

The livingwall is integrated into existing air conditioning systems. The system draws air past the foliage and rootzone of living plants, this ‘activates’ the system and greatly increases the speed of natural biological processes that scrub the polluted air clean. This is a relatively new concept, but there are some great studies, and more research is being done all the time.

How does it work?

[1] Polluted internal air is drawn past specialist breathable phytotextile pockets which are holding soil and the living plants.

[2] As the air passes through the specialist fabric and soil, microbes feed off the contaminants, breaking down and consuming them by using the particles as a food source.

[3] The foliage of the living plants also intercepts larger particulate matter, sequesters carbon dioxide and releases fresh oxygen and humidity into the air.

The science

Biofiltration is the passing of a contaminated airstream past a biologically active area, such as roots or leaves, where beneficial microbes use pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) found in polluted indoor air, as a food source. the contaminants are literally consumed by the microbes, leaving the air scrubbed clean by natural biological processes.

Phytoremediation describes the ability of living organisms to remediate pollution. many plants have the ability to capture pollutants. plants that are photosynthesising also convey oxygen, sugars and proteins to the rootzone, where a substantial amount is ‘leaked’ into the soil. this enhanced soil environment leads to productive microbial activity, making the biofiltration possible.

The benefits

Greenwall (vertical garden) systems can remediate up to 90% of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in internal air and provide oxygen-rich, naturally pre-cooled air in the summer, and humidified air in the winter.

Air circulation and conditioning systems can use over 30% of a buildings energy consumption. Using a greenwall integrated into air conditioning systems will pre-cool the air being drawn into mechanical air conditioning systems, increasing efficiency and lowering operating costs.

These systems can also help designers gain BREAAM points, contribute toward WELL building standards, and help reduce sick building syndrome – creating a healthier, happier internal environment.

Air quality all-stars

The indoor pollutants that affect health are formaldehyde, VOC’s such as benzene and trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, amongst others.

Through studies conducted by NASA to look at maintaining healthy air quality in space, scientists have identified the best plant species for remediating indoor air quality.

Recent greenwall trials by Transport for London also looked at the best outdoor species for remediating vehicle emissions and particulate matter.

We continue to trial species in Bristol to develop a robust palette of internal and external species which offer the most effective air scrubbing performance with lowest water requirements.