The Vertical Garden

first_imgGreen walls, or “vertical gardens,” are walls partly composed of or filled in with live plant matter. They filter air and water, soak up carbon dioxide and help lessen the “heat island” effect of urban areas while reducing air conditioning costs in their host buildings. Pictured: a vertical garden at the Anataeum Hotel in London. Credit: Niall Napier, FlickrDear EarthTalk: I’ve heard of green roofs, but what are “green walls?”— P. Spencer, Alcoa, TNGreen walls (also known as biowalls, vertical gardens or vertical vegetated complex walls) are wall structures partly composed of or filled in with growing plant matter. More than just easy on the eyes, green walls work like green roofs by filtering air and water, soaking up carbon dioxide and helping lessen the “heat island” effect of urban areas while reducing air conditioning costs in their host buildings.The self-proclaimed creator of the vertical garden concept, French botanist Patrick Blanc, pioneered the use of hydroponic cultivation techniques—plants grow in an irrigated mineral nutrient solution without the need for a soil substrate—to create large green wall installations in both residential settings and within larger public structures and even office buildings from Singapore to San Francisco and points in between.Blanc’s installations start by placing a metal frame on a load-bearing wall or structure. The frame supports a 10-millimeter-thick PVC plate, upon which are stapled two 3-millimeter-thick layers of polyamide felt. “These layers mimic cliff-growing mosses and support the roots of many plants,” he says, adding that a network of pipes and valves provides a nutrient solution of dissolved minerals needed for plant growth. “The felt is soaked by capillary action with this nutrient solution, which flows down the wall by gravity.”“The roots of the plants take up the nutrients they need, and excess water is collected at the bottom of the wall by a gutter before being re-injected into the network of pipes: The system works in a closed circuit.” Plants are chosen for their ability to grow in this type of environment and depending on available light.“Each vertical garden is a unique wall composition of various types of plants that has to take into account the specific surroundings of the place in which it is created,” says landscape architect Michael Hellgren, who founded the firm Vertical Garden Design in 2004. “It is not only the colorful interplay between the plants on a ‘green wall’ that is fascinating, but also the appearance of the wall itself, which changes daily.”Hellgren, who has designed and implemented large green walls in his home country of Sweden as well as in Spain, Portugal and Italy, among other locales, sources plants for his projects from various climate zones around the world. His favorites are so-called “lithophytes”: plants that can grow on rocks, branches and tree trunks without necessarily being rooted in soil. “Among other things these climbing plants have the enormous advantage of their roots acting as excellent natural drainage on the wall,” he adds.While large “vertical gardens” are surely impressive, critics question the sustainability of such endeavors, given the energy inputs needed to run the pumps and other equipment used to maintain proper nutrient and air flows, and the emissions caused by the manufacture and transport of specialized materials. Also, larger green walls need more water than rain alone can provide, and thus don’t necessarily save water. But as the field matures, practitioners are finding wider arrays of plants to choose from that are better at taking care of themselves—and scaling back on inputs and supporting machinery with the hope that one day many of the walls will be self-sustaining gardens that cleanse our dirty air and compromised storm water.CONTACTS: Patrick Blanc, www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com; Vertical Garden Design, www.verticalgardendesign.com.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.last_img read more

Gov. Wolf Leads Bipartisan Effort in Calling on President, Congressional Leaders to Invest in Broadband Internet Access

first_img National Issues,  Press Release,  Restore Pennsylvania Eleven governors send letter calling for significant investments to bridge digital divideAs states continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including economic recovery efforts, Governor Tom Wolf and a bipartisan coalition of 11 governors today sent a letter urging the president and Congressional leaders to make critical investments to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband internet connectivity, which they say is critical infrastructure that’s vitally important to our economic future and national security.“An investment in broadband internet connectivity is an investment in our commonwealth’s future and prosperity. The critical need for high-speed internet has become clear in light of our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as more families work and learn from home, businesses operate online services and patients access medical care through telehealth,” Gov. Wolf said. “Now, as Pennsylvania focuses on our economic recovery, it’s critical that broadband internet access becomes a reality for every community, and especially our rural areas.“It’s clear that this is more than a Pennsylvania issue – the digital divide exists in communities across the country,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest, especially as technology continues to evolve and advance, that we make a significant infrastructural investment.”Some 18 million Americans, including nearly a million Pennsylvanians, lack access to broadband internet connectivity. Businesses and families without adequate access are left behind, and the consequences are staggering from an economic, health, education, and social standpoint, the governors said. A significant investment in broadband connectivity, the governors added, will unleash economic potential, promote stable job growth that’s resilient in times like these, and ensure all businesses and families can participate in the digital economy.Governor Wolf has made access to high-speed internet a top priority. He led this bipartisan call to address the issue following a discussion with Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford. The farmer owned cooperative is working with organizations across industries including agriculture, healthcare, finance, and tech to address connectivity.“We commend Governor Wolf and his fellow leaders for making this bipartisan call to action and for recognizing that our country simply cannot afford to allow the digital divide to widen,” Ford said. “Land O’Lakes, and many of our partners who understand the economic, educational and quality of life impacts that digital technology can have for individuals and for communities, look forward to working together with these governors and other policy makers as we advocate for high-speed internet access to become a reality for all Americans.”Broadband internet access is also a key component of Restore Pennsylvania, a statewide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs, including installation of infrastructure to bring high speed internet to every corner of the commonwealth. Funded through a commonsense severance tax, Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that will help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century.Ver esta página en español. Gov. Wolf Leads Bipartisan Effort in Calling on President, Congressional Leaders to Invest in Broadband Internet Access June 25, 2020center_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more