Living Walls Boost HVAC Efficiency Gains

Enhancing IAQ and Energy Efficiency with Living Walls

Sourceable, July 14, 2016

In addition to enhancing the aesthetic appeal and natural atmosphere of building interiors, large-scale indoor plant installations can also improve living conditions for human occupants while raising the energy efficiency of facilities themselves.

The enhanced air cleansing achieved by living walls can in turn dramatically raise the efficiency of HVAC systems by reducing their energy burden.

HVAC systems traditionally adjust the temperature of indoor settings using  new air sourced from the external environment. This external air must be conditioned prior to being channeled into into the building interior, which is a process that incurs a heavy energy cost. As a consequence HVAC systems often over 30 per cent of a building’s total energy consumption.

Living walls can cut down on the energy consumption of HVAC systems by instead providing them with filtered air from the same, indoors environment, that already possesses temperature or humidity levels far closer to those intended.

The efficiency gains achieved by combining living walls with HVAC systems can reap huge economic benefits of facilities owners. A six-storey living wall designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects proved capable of meeting all the humidification needs of the University of Ottawa faculty building where it was installed, enabling the campus administration to fully offset the project’s capital costs.

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Image credit: Evelyn Simak