Last week’s GreenBuild/ ABX2017Expo in Boston boasted a mind-boggling 550+ exhibitors and 75+ product categories focused on sustainable building—from insulation to solar panels. As the escalator descended to the 12-acre exhibit space, I felt that Robin Williams’ Moscow on Hudson moment—completely overwhelmed by too many choices. So I dodged the crowds, blew past the booths, ditched the demonstrations. and tipped-toed past the tiny houses in favor of plants. Walls and walls of green plants. They drew me in.
In an Expo Hall overflowing with people and products, I sought out the green at GreenBuild. E.O. Wilson, the famed biologist, might understand. In 1984, he proposed the biophilia hypothesis that suggests humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. More recent research links the health and wellness benefits of green plants to increased productivity in the workplace, a happier workforce and increased memory retention.
I hung out in the greenery for a while and visited a handful of vendors who touted the health benefits of vertical green walls. First stop: Nedlaw Living Walls where their biofiltration technology uses a hydroponic system to remove pollutants from a building’s air and return cleansed air while bringing nature into the workplace to improve employee well-being.
Next came Naava whose “smart green walls” offer air purification technology in a soilless system that is monitored by sensors and artificial intelligence. The company’s goal is to create “healthier, happier, and more inspiring workplaces” with a fully-automated combination product—air purifier, humidifier and living plant wall—all in one.”
Ambius promotes standalone vertical or wall-mounted, hydroponic gardens called SageWallsä and mosaic-like systems called Sage Biotilesä that can support perennials, ground covers, annuals, vines and tropical foliage in any design configuration. Their walls improve air quality and beautify the workplace while boosting employee morale.
The focus of CityScapes is to enhance the built “environment through biophilic design and the power of plants.” They claim the benefits of living walls include air filtration and pollution removal as well as stress reduction. Loved the fact their conference swag included an air plant in a tiny, round copper wire cage.
Suite Plants had my number: an easy-to-maintain modular green wall that can be mounted as easily as a photo on a wall, configured to any size and required no electricity or water pumps. The possibility of an easy-to-install small green wall in my home office appealed to my DIY nature.
If green walls can remove conference stress, imagine what they could do for an office, school, hospital or the building you’re in right now?
Turns out our man-made architecture works best when non-built features abound. At the end of the day, no matter the architect, it’s Mother Nature’s work we crave–as the experience of a 12-acre (4.8 hectare) exhibit space made clear.
Imagine the impact in a smaller venue–like my home office!
(All photos by Janice M. Ward at GreenBuild 2017 in Boston.)