Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen + Water Harvesting Demonstration Project Phase I‐ Feasibility and Design

Executive Summary:

The Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen and Water Harvesting Demonstration Project is a two- Phase project to be constructed at Gould Hall. Phase I is a Feasibility and Design Study and Phase II is Construction and Documentation. This proposal is to fund Phase I with work to be completed by the end of August, 2011. A student Design Team will lead the project from initial building assessment through construction and monitoring stages. As a Demonstration Project, students will transform a blank concrete wall into a showcase of improved habitat that fosters diverse native species, a rainwater harvest method, local food production, and systems that reduce building heating and cooling energy demand that can help the campus reduce its carbon footprint and achieve its sustainability goals. A student-led design and construction effort, the Demonstration Project will provide numerous campus benefits as well as enhanced hands-on education opportunities.

The Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen and Water Harvesting Demonstration Project will address several aspects of sustainability outlined in the UW Climate Action Plan including water recycling, sustainable land use planning, sustainable and local food production, energy and carbon footprint reduction and UW green marketing and branding efforts. Question #2 outlines additional ecological benefits such as water quality improvement, habitat creation and native plant use.

The two phase project is outlined below:

Phase I (May – August 2011)

  1. Assess the feasibility of constructing a Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen and Water Harvesting system at Gould Hall, where students can experience, study, maintain and monitor the near and long-term effects of the installation. Feasibility will include site assessment, building structural analysis, water harvesting volumes, micro-climate analysis, and existing green wall and green screen construction methods and materials. The Feasibility Study will engage the necessary support from the College of Built Environments and Campus Facilities.
  2. Develop designs for the Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen and Water Harvesting Demonstration Project with involvement of the College of Built Environments and Campus Facilities. Design will include structural support and soil systems, plant selection, sustainable materials, irrigation, future maintenance systems, and a detailed budget to cover costs of construction, installation, and near-term monitoring and maintenance.
  3. Develop a Feasibility and Design Report that outlines results and includes construction documents for building the Demonstration Project. The report will be displayed online on the Green Futures Lab’s Living Wall webpage as well as physically in the Lab, which is located adjacent to the proposed Green Wall and Green Screen installations.

Phase II (October – December 2011, with future funding)

  1. Work from the construction documents produced in Phase I to acquire materials and construct the biodiversity green wall, the edible green screen, and the roof water harvesting system, including structural systems, irrigation system, and planting. Work will be completed by both expert contractors and the student Design Team.
  2. Create an As-Built Plan documenting construction alterations to the design.
  3. Display video footage documenting construction as well as photos, plans, and information about the project on the GFL’s Living Wall webpage.
  4. Perform monitoring and maintenance as necessary to document environmental benefits of the Demonstration Project. Repair any problems that arise from wear and tear and document on- going maintenance needs.

Student Involvement:

The Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen and Water Harvesting Demonstration Project will engage a graduate student manager as well as two team members to design, construct and document the project, requiring over 1,000 hours of student work. The Demonstration Project will target involvement of landscape architecture, architecture, construction management, engineering and/or horticulture students interested in sustainable “green” design practices. This project will provide valuable student learning experiences including research, preparing design and construction documents and hands-on construction. Students will benefit from advisement and oversight by faculty, while students will primarily be responsible for the research, design, and construction of the sustainable campus features. The student manager will gain experience leading the project team, engaging with a contractor, and the overall construction oversight process. The student Design Team will gain new skills assisting design development, planting the green screen and green wall, monitoring and maintenance, and sharing their work with UW students, faculty and the broader public as representatives of the Demonstration Project. A website created by the Design Team will showcase student-led results, and document construction and ongoing maintenance. Following construction, the Green Futures Lab will ensure the Demonstration Project has the faculty guidance and student stewardship needed to sustain the full life of the living structures. As a component of the Green Futures Lab Materials Library students will serve as docents of the Demonstration Project to visitors and will train incoming students to take their place following graduation.

Education & Outreach:

The Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen and Water Harvesting Demonstration Project aligns with the sustainability goals of the Green Futures Lab, the College of Built Environments, and the UW Climate Action Plan, providing various opportunities for display, presentations, discussions and tours. The results of the Phase I Feasibility document, design plans, and videos documenting construction will be published online on the GFL's website and will be displayed in hard copy form in the Green Futures Lab. Students will also have the option to present their findings and designs in various university courses such as LARCH 498: Soils and Hydrology, ARCH 532: Sustainable Construction Materials, CM 313: Construction Methods and Materials, and other applicable engineering, horticulture or ESRM courses. Post construction, students will be invited to conduct research on the walls and water harvesting systems and to co-publish and present this research in courses and conferences. Potential opportunities for publicizing in print include the UW Daily, UW Today e-newsletter, and the UW Botanic Gardens e-newsletter. Because the Demonstration Project is a highly public "green" structure, it could appeal to professional publications or blog entries for the Cascadia Green Building Council, American Society of Landscape Architecture, or Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. Facebook will be used to reach out to the student body. Due to its high visibility in Gould Hall's Varey Garden on 15th Avenue, the Green Wall will physically market the campus sustainability image to the general public, as well as for prospective students through campus tours and program orientations. Additionally, interpretive signage will provide passive educational opportunities for visitors to the walls in the Gould Hall Varey Garden. Successful implementation of the Demonstration Project may lay the groundwork for the construction of other green walls on campus, helping the campus achieve its multiple sustainability goals.

Environmental Impact:
  • Living Systems and Biodiversity
Project Longevity:

Environmental Problem:

The UW Seattle campus covers an area of 643 acres in size. Of this, 52% (an area equivalent to 334 football fields without end zones) is paved or contains an impervious roof (UW Salmon Safe Assessment). Stormwater runoff from these surfaces contains harmful pollutants that enter Lake Union untreated, causing substantial impacts to migrating salmon and other aquatic organisms in the lake system. Campus and urban development have degraded native terrestrial habitat, interrupting food webs and local landscape ecologies. Additionally, the natural habitat aesthetic is lacking on campus, and students must venture elsewhere to experience recreational connection to complex ecosystems. New techniques are needed to effectively integrate healthy habitat in the urban campus environment.

Average daily water consumption on the UW Seattle campus is 1.46 million gallons per day (Facilities Services, 2009). This can be especially problematic during the summer when river flow is low and water demand directly competes with salmon and other aquatic organisms’ needs for fresh water. Future climate predictions indicate this competition will be exacerbated due to reduced snowpack (Mote, 2003). In addition, the 200+ UW campus buildings depend on large amounts of energy for heating and cooling, that is correlated to both global climate and local heat island effects. Rising energy costs during the current financial crisis may need to be paid for by increased tuition rates. Better building insulation is needed to decrease these economic and environmental impacts caused by buildings. Similar atmospheric impacts arise from the carbon footprint of typical industrial food production, calling for more efficient and innovative ways to produce local food.

To simultaneously address these concerns, the Green Futures Lab proposes to design and construct a Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen and Water Harvesting Demonstration Project at Gould Hall. Populated with local native herbaceous and evergreen plants, the Biodiversity Green Wall will harvest rooftop water diverted down a “living wall,” providing native habitat, rainwater re-use, stormwater volume runoff reduction, and water quality improvements. The Edible Green Screen will intercept surface runoff to grow edible vines, creating an innovative, space efficient way to produce local food. Both the Green Wall and Green Screen will provide vertical habitat, assist with building insulation and summer cooling (reducing costs), and provide educational and aesthetic opportunities for students, faculty and staff.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

Total amount requested from the CSF: $10,185
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Feasibility Study$20/hr + 14.7% benefits60 hrs x 2 students2,753
Design + Construction Documents$20/hr + 14.7% benefits80 hrs x 2 students3,670
Advising + Oversight$45/hr + 25.8% benefits40hrs x 1 faculty2,262
Structural Consulting $10001 professional1,000
Expenses (e.g. printing of professional construction documents, feasibility + design documentation)$500Lump sum500

Non-CSF Sources:

Note: while no additional non-CSF sources are being pursued for Phase I, Phase II (construction) has good potential to garner donations. Phase I Feasibility and Design will provide the visual images, select the appropriate products, and provide assurance of constructability that will assist in securing donations and funding to construct the proposed sustainability features. The GFL will provide $2000 from a donor to assist with Phase II Construction and will pursue other matching funds.
Project Completion Total:


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Selection of student +faculty team, project kickoff (CSF funds needed)3 weeksJune 10, 2011
Structural + microclimate analysis2 weeksJune 24, 2011
Studies of precedents, materials + potential manufactures1 weekJuly 1, 2011
Green wall/green screen design development2 weeksJuly 15, 2011
Construction documents and specifications3 weeksAugust 5, 2011
Professional + faculty review1 weekAugust 12, 2011
Feasibility and design document website initiation, and CSF report (CSF funds spent)2 weeksAugust 26, 2011

Project Approval Forms: