How Eco-Friendly Consumers are Driving a (Literally) Green Building Trend
Living walls aren’t just for interiors anymore. As environmentalism becomes increasingly important to a larger number of people, more construction firms are focusing on incorporating plants and trees into their building designs.
Restoring the Natural Landscape
The human population is growing, and the world’s megacities continue to expand and consume the natural landscape around them. While planned parks and small-scale tree planting efforts are making some headway in reintroducing plants and other natural elements into these industrially developed areas, some architects, designers and construction industry thought leaders want to see a more targeted and concerted effort to make cities greener, both literally and figuratively.
Anyone who keeps an eye on construction and architecture news has probably noticed a trend toward plant-covered buildings. Residential towers, hotels and even some office or government buildings are being built specifically to accommodate plants of different varieties. In some cases, the building’s plan includes space for tall trees with deep roots to grow, creating a “vertical forest” effect that gives tenants and guests a sense of privacy and lush natural beauty in the middle of a crowded city. In other cases, the plants are smaller bushes that simply add some verdancy and texture to a building’s exterior. No matter what the specific approach, these plants are a deliberate and innate part of the building’s design. Unlike the ivy that climbs up the side of classic old buildings, these plants aren’t invasive.
Focusing on Eco-Friendly Cities
Part of the benefit of this approach to building design is that the buildings themselves become part of an effort to clean the air, reduce pollution and introduce more oxygen into busy cityscapes. As much as we want to rely on technology to solve environmental problems, sometimes the natural ways, the old ways, are best. Trees and plants are a necessary part of any ecosystem, and removing them entirely creates an unhealthy environment that is quickly becoming unappealing to a large number of people. Adding trees into a building plan can keep cities relevant for a new generation.
There’s also a distinct aesthetic benefit to this building approach. When talking to clients with a focus on eco friendliness, many project managers find that there’s a desire to visually demonstrate a building’s commitment to the environment. The use of sustainable materials like reclaimed flooring or bamboo can play a part in this, but ultimately, nothing says “green” quite like an actual living plant. While not all construction clients are likely to care about eco friendliness, those who do will want to see something innovative and effective. It could be that this trend of incorporating plants into exterior design will satisfy these green-focused clients.
As major cities in France, Switzerland, China, Germany, Japan and the United States begin to introduce more vertical forests and other buildings that incorporate nature into cityscapes, chances are that this trend may foment a real movement in the industry. This may call for the inclusion of some new specialty areas within the construction management profession, particularly with respect to the proper transportation and installation of living design elements.