resource-based design as an activating agent for energy and water conservation
Green and living walls are an old idea made anew through the use of conventional construction materials used in new and creative ways. There is now a broad market for mass- produced prefabricated living wall systems that are made from PVC, metal, and or geotextiles. There exist hydroponic living walls made from geotextiles and fabric materials, rigid modular living walls made from PVC, and green fagade structures made from cable and steel mesh to support ground- based vines. Most conventional materials for green walls in the market are derived from raw material or recycled PVC. This study investigates alternative materials already in the solid waste stream that were ready for creative reuse. The purpose of this project was to explore if existing sheet metal by- products could be repurposed as green wall systems and provide beneficial ecosystem services. A secondary purpose was to educate the campus community about sustainability through improving the value of industrial by-products thereby reducing waste streams in the production of new materials, energy conservation and reduced water use for green walls through the use of drought tolerant vegetation. Initial readings for the living wall system surface was 2.68 to 3.92 and up to 4.6 degrees Celsius cooler than the adjacent concrete wall. Students and faculty at Texas A&M university worked through a dozen different green wall modular designs. One design was refined and was trialed for cutting using a water-jet machine and assembled with manual folding. Three hundred prism shaped modules were attached to a vertical steel frame. Drip irrigation lines deliver water to each module. Drought tolerant plants were used to minimize irrigation water. It is estimated that compared to conventional living walls, the proposed system uses about half of the volume of water needed for irrigation. More detailed analysis is currently under investigation.