OVERVIEW OF PROJECT
Janie Bube and Amanda Dinauer, both Master of Landscape Architecture students and Masters of Science in Entrepreneurship student Jaakko Kuoppamaki, are working with the Office of Student Veteran Life and veteran students to explore the therapeutic benefits of artwork being turned into living art (living walls). There are many healing and therapeutic benefits from living walls, including increased productivity and relaxation. The living art will also follow sustainability principles and the overall sustainability goals of the Campus Sustainability Fund. We have already started to work with veteran students through workshops and one-on-one interviews.
- We hope to bring visual therapeutic benefits, beauty, and overall enjoyment to students in the HUB, particularly students in the study areas.
- We are working to create a simple, self-sustaining, but new type of living wall that is in a pattern of a historic painting, but with plants.
- Broadly speaking we hope to enhance the lives of students in community spaces. (These living art pieces could be applied to many spaces around campus that need a positive uplift and therapeutic enhancement.)
LEADERSHIP AND STUDENT INVOLVEMENT:
There are approximately 3,341 student veterans and military connected families. at the Seattle, UW campus. These students often find themselves on the 2nd floor of the HUB at the Office of Student Veteran Life, even more students (thousands) come and go, study, socialize, and relax throughout the building. This means it is a central location for student veterans, military connected family members, and non-student veterans, faculty, and staff to mingle. Not only this, but it is one of the highest frequented buildings on campus, which makes it a prime location to create something that can lower anxiety, help stress, increase concentration, relax, and purify...something like a living art. We want to create something that brings students together to enjoy while studying, socializing, or relaxing. We have the support from specific students, student veteran leadership who will be helping make this a reality. We also have the staff support from the Office of Student Veteran Life.
SUSTAINABLE AND HEALTH IMPACTS
Interior living walls have been known to...
Purify the air: the plants in an interior living wall filter particulate matter from the air and convert CO2 into oxygen. One meter squared of a living wall extracts 2.3 kg of CO2 per annum from the air and produces 1.7 kg of oxygen.
Reduce ambient temperature: plants absorb sunlight, 50% is absorbed and 30% reflected; so this helps to create a cooler and more pleasant climate. For the indoor climate this means that 33% less air conditioning is required, which in turn means energy savings.
Reduces ambient noise inside: a living wall acts as a sound barrier to the building. It absorbs 41% more sound than a traditional facade and this means that the environment is much quieter. This results in a reduction of 8 dB, which means that ambient noise is halved.
Healthy indoor climate: greenery promotes a healthy indoor climate. Complaints such as irritated eyes, headaches, sore throats and tiredness diminish. In offices where there is plenty of greenery, there is a noticeable decrease in absence due to illness. Imagine this in a university setting!
Increases productivity: a green workplace can result in a 15% increase in productivity. Plants have a positive effect on people. This is also reflected in employee satisfaction and can now be reflected in student satisfaction.
Offers healing environment: as research has shown time and time again, greenery encourages faster recovery for patients, resulting in a shorter hospital stay. A person's tolerance of pain is higher in a green environment. This is also known as a ‘healing environment’.
Increases the feeling of well-being: living and working in a green environment has a positive effect on the well-being of people. Greenery offers relaxation and reduces stress. Look at what Amazon has done with several of its buildings in South Lake Union, not to mention the Amazon Biospheres.
EDUCATION, OUTREACH, AND BEHAVIOR CHANGE
We believe that education and outreach go hand-in-hand with the actual product of the living art. In partnership with the Office of Student Veteran Life, we are planning to do monthly workshops on the benefits of plants and living walls, the importance of art therapy (ties into the framework and process in which we created the living art), and living wall creation and maintenance. We have already spoken to the Student Veteran Life about this and are working in tandem to come up with continuing education workshops.
FEASIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
We are aware of the technical needs of a living wall, but have an engineer on our team who will be designing and building the prototype with us. In addition, two of our team members have previous experience building living walls. We are also aware of the maintenance needs of most living walls. Our living wall is designed specifically with this in mind and will require little maintenance or damage to any location because it is free-standing and does not require being situated on or near a wall; is securely weighted down, so it will not accidently be knocked over; is self-watering; and is self-lighted with special grow lights. The living wall, will need to be plugged in and the water tanks will need to be occasionally filled and supplied with liquid nutrients. We have spoken to the Office of Student Veteran Life about this and we all plan to create a realistic maintenance plan that their students or staff will be more than happy to maintain.
Weekly monitoring will occur by the project team and Veteran Student Life staff and students. This can be done in several ways and the best ways will be determined at the end of April. We will be consulting an environmental psychologist who will help guide us to the best monitoring options regarding student veteran life responses to the living wall with stress reduction, concentration increase, and overall enjoyment of working in the space. We will then broaden our monitoring to the general student body to see how the living art wall has impacted them. We are designing the living art wall to function with as little energy and water usage and yet still be enough for the plants. We will have monitoring devices on the living wall to show water usage and energy usage. This is something that hasn’t really been done for interior living walls, so we are excited to see how it can enhance the project. We are also interested in teaching veteran students and other students how to measure and monitor living projects.