A wall of vegetation now climbs the south side of Gould Hall, after the opening of the Biodiversity Green Wall and Edible Green Screen on Monday.
The sustainable, vertical wall creates more efficient methods in plant growth, water circulation, and biodiversity. The wall was a collaborative project within the UW College of Built Environments’ Green Futures Lab (GFL).
“The idea to build the Green Wall was inspiring,” said Leann Andrews, lab manager at GFL.
The upper wall is 80 to 85 percent native plants, and the lower wall is about 50 percent native. Biodiverse plants support native wildlife. Andrews said the plants can survive Seattle weather.
In addition to catering to natural habitat, the ecological design is frugal in energy use and limits water consumption.
“Temperature systems track the wall temperature, which shows the benefit of the energy efficiency in heat of the climate conditions rising,” Andrews said. “It will also be irrigated all throughout winter with rooftop water harvesting.”
The Edible Green Screen is separate from the Biodiversity Green Wall. The screen is composed of cables to aid in the vertical growth of specific plants, such as hops and kiwis. The hops were donated for the project. Kiwis are vine-based and are able to successfully grow in a vertical environment.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying it and watching it grow and progress,” Andrews said.
GFL Director Nancy Rottle said the projects bridge diverse aspects of green infrastructure that improve habitat and promote sustainable communities. She said she hopes it will strengthen ecological functions of urban landscapes by supporting biodiversity, improving air quality and temperature, and creating local resources.
Construction for the wall began 19 months ago, when the Campus Sustainability Fund (CFS) approved a grant for $91,800 to pay for the project.
“This is the only project on campus that is funded entirely by student contribution to grants,” said Kyle Murphy, CFS outreach coordinator.
Before Andrews created the grant proposal, she did a preliminary study that planned out the construction and design depending on what was financially feasible.
SolTerra Systems, an ecological landscaping company, constructed the project with the help of architecture students. The wall is lined with patented wool with pockets for soil and roots. A crank-and-pulley system moves the walls to the upper balcony, where gardeners can care for them.
“The pulley systems help with accessibility to be able to garden, water, and to have human interaction,” Andrews said.
Rottle said she hopes to see the project encourage future green efforts at the UW.
“We hope that, with this successful example, our Biodiversity Green Wall and Edible Green Screen will inspire others on campus,” Rottle said. “That will be up to others to take on.”