Green Wall Interactive Educational Elements and Habitat Structures

Executive Summary:

This proposal is for material and labor costs for students to design, fabricate and install interactive educational elements and habitat enhancements to the previously funded CSF project, the Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen and Water Harvesting Demonstration Project at Gould Hall.  These improvements will include the installation of bird perches on the Green Wall, a prominent water level monitor on the cisterns, and interpretive signage with links to online data.  Gould Hall is located in a As is often the case for highly urbanized environmentareas, the environment surrounding Gould Hall is deficient in wildlife habitat and generates profuse amounts of polluted stormwater runoff.  where wildlife habitat is rare and polluted stormwater is abundant. Exposing the water harvesting capabilities, habitat value, and other benefits of the Green Wall project will help students and passersby to understand and envision more sustainable opportunities for dense urban environments.  The project will be implemented through the Green Futures Research and Design Lab (GFL) at the College of Built Environments and the student team will consult with applicable departments during design and construction (i.e. the Gould Hall building manager, campus facilities and engineering, CSF, UW Architecture Commission, and others).  Through this grant, the wall’s capacity to support biodiversity will be enhanced, and interactive and dynamic interpretive features will compellingly inform students, faculty and the public about the sustainability features and the performance of the Green Wall.

Student Involvement:

This proposal will fund the labor costs for two students at the College of Built Environment to design, buy materials, fabricate and install the interactive educational elements and habitat enhancements.  It will also fund a student to design a robust Green Wall project page on the GFL website complete with live-streaming, or frequently updated monitoring information. There is a great deal of student interest in the Green Wall project, and we anticipate that there will also be significant volunteer participation among students, particularly during the installation and fabrication phases.  The project will be completed by the Green Futures Lab, directed by Professor Nancy Rottle, who was also the lead faculty advisor for the design and construction of the Green Wall.  This proposal will be student-led, with students obtaining design feedback from appropriate faculty and staff (College of Built Environments, Gould Hall building manager, campus architect, landscape architect, and facilities, CSF etc.).  Students will submit the signage design to the University for approval before fabrication. Students will use the shop at Gould Hall to fabricate most of the elements (design students are well-versed in the shop, and go through shop safety training).

Education & Outreach:

This proposal is primarily geared toward education and outreach.  The Green Wall project has been widely publicized (see below) and has played a critical role in both promoting green walls and advancing the technology.  The GFL receives visitors from across the country on a regular basis that are interested in implementing a green wall elsewhere and are looking to the UW Green Wall for inspiration.

Despite the success of media outreach campaigns, the Green Wall project currently has an untapped potential to provide educational opportunities to members of the general public who visit or pass by the site. By implementing this proposal, the inner workings of the Green Wall project (such as rainwater capture in the cisterns) will be revealed and thus provide a much more in-depth educational experience than is currently available. This will be particularly educational for those with an untrained eye in sustainable design. The signage will include QR codes that will link to online information the Green Futures Lab website to further explain the project and convey current monitoring results, and to the CSF website to instruct how students can create sustainability projects of their own.

Already implemented education and outreach for the Green Wall Project:

  • UW TV- The Daily Double Shot
  • UW Today
  • Seattle Times
  • AIA What Makes It Green Award, Honorable Mention
  • AIA headquarters WMIG Gallery
  • Future Energy Conference, Seattle
  • CBE Blog Postings
  • Gallery Display in Gould Court Café
  • UW Sustainability Fair
  • OUT / in / FRONT 2012 Gallery
  • King 5 News
  • UW Website
  • Conservation Magazine
  • Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, Architecture + Engineering
  • Green Infrastructure Partnership
  • You Tube (time lapse video)
  • Switchboard, the National Resource Defense Council’s blog
  • Blog posting in Atlantic Cities
  • Involvement of over 60 students, faculty and staff and a local contractor
Environmental Impact:
  • Energy Use
  • Food
  • Living Systems and Biodiversity
  • Water
  • Environmental Justice
Project Longevity:

Environmental Problem:

Our urban environment contains many environmental problems (i.e. issues of native habitat destruction, interrupted food webs, polluted stormwater runoff, carbon reliance, urban heat island effects, water consumption and waste, climate changing conditions, atmospheric impacts amongst others). The Green Wall project has many environmental benefits that address these problems (i.e.  water recycling, stormwater attenuation, air purification, noise attenuation reduction, habitat to increase urban biodiversity, urban heat island reduction, heat island mitigation, enhanced building performance, local food production).  The features provided by this project would educate the public about these benefits, some of which are not obvious to the untrained eye, and explain the inner workings of the Green Wall to better educate the public about living walls and water harvesting systems.  The water level measuring device, signage and web page would promote environmental literacy in our urbanized society, informing future professionals about sustainable design techniques and sparking interest in these techniques among the general public.  We intend to include a web link (e.g. smart phone QR code) within the signage to direct visitors towards dynamic explanatory graphics and text on the web page, which will include monitoring results and possibly live data, engaging the public interactively and educating them about the ecosystem services provided by the Green Wall project.

Additionally, we have observed substantial avian interest in the Green Wall, and it appears that birds are looking for perches to access the shelter, nesting material, and food source of plants growing on the wall.  Some are using the light poles but cannot reach the plants from these.  We propose to enhance the Green Wall’s biodiversity value by adding structural perches that will enable songbirds to access seeds and insects on the plants from a suitable proximity, and to successfully nest in the wall (as one bird attempted to last year.).  Bird perches would enhance both increase the biodiversity habitat value of the wall, attract more attention to the wall through bird activity and songs, and enhance the human viewing and educational experience.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

Installation of an external water level measuring device will enable the GFL to monitor the levels of water stored in the cisterns and the volume detained from entering the sewer system.  Using a visible, creative design will also enable the public to monitor these water levels. In addition, tThe Green Futures Lab recently received a grant from the UW Green Seed Fund for monitoring of the Green Wall project.  The GFL would be able to employ some of these funds towards measuring the effectiveness of the bird perches.  Students working on the project would be able to compare avian visitations to the Green Wall before and after the bird perch installation, noting species types as well as frequency and duration of visitations.  With development of a public website dynamic online Green Wall resource, data collected via the monitoring project with regard to the habitat value, water usage, stormwater detained, and thermal modulation would become available to the public on the website that CSF funding would support.

While educational benefits are difficult to measure, we would be able to gather some information by monitoring usage of the GFL’s website.  This will allow us to see how often people use the QR code provided on the interpretive signage by the Green Wall to link the website, and what types of information on the Green Wall they seek out most frequently.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $5,500
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost/ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Equipment & Construction
Installation of Water Level Measuring100011000
Interpretive Sign Printing/ Fabrication2502500
Materials (Steel, piping, float, etc)5001500
Publicity & Communications
Website Design and Maintenance by Student17.350870
Personnel & Wages
Project Management by Student17.316280
Design, Fabrication and Installation by Students17.31362350
General Supplies & Other

Non-CSF Sources:

Source/DescriptionAmount RequestedDate RequestedDate Received
Green Seed Fund$40,478 12/5/20131/9/2014
Project Completion Total: $49,978


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Design of Interactive Educational and Habitat Elements1 monthJul-14
Order and Purchase Materials3 weeksAug-14
Fabrication and Installation of Elements2 weeksSep-14