Biodiversity Green Wall Restoration

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $7,500

Letter of Intent:

Spearheaded and designed by the Green Futures Lab with funding from the CSF, the UW Biodiversity Green Wall was completed in the fall of 2012, transforming two blank concrete walls into lush urban habitat. Located in the southeast corner of Gould Hall on 15th Avenue and NE 40th Street, the award-winning project has been widely publicized and has the potential to provide numerous benefits such as reducing building energy needs, mitigating heat island effects, conserving potable water, reducing stormwater pollution, and increasing urban biodiversity.

Early 2019, the required irrigation system for the Biodiversity Green Wall malfunctioned and has not been able to be repaired. Consequently, there has been 100% mortality of the plantings on the wall, despite considerable effort to keep them alive over the summer by hand watering. Most recently, Covid-19 has barred progress and efforts to get the Green Wall up and running again.  

There is renewed interest in getting the irrigation system functioning again, and the Green Wall planted before Autumn term. We have requested repairs on the potable back-up system and the irrigation controller and anticipate repairs in Spring 2021. We are actively following up with PAE Consulting Engineers, UW Facilities, and UW Grounds and hope that CSF will be able to meet with us again to identify needed actions for irrigation system repair, after which we hope to be able to replant the wall. The Biodiversity Green Wall has proven to be an invaluable resource and asset to the College of Built Environments, the University of Washington, and the surrounding community but right now the Green Wall is not able to serve any of its prior sustainable and educational services. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to repair the irrigation system this spring, and with funding from the CSF, we will be able to replant the wall before students return to in-person instruction in the fall.

We are therefore requesting funding for plant purchase and labor to successfully replant the wall. With this restoration, the Biodiversity Green Wall will continue to meet the CSF’s project criteria in the following ways:

Sustainable Impact

  1. Increased building performance, long term energy and cost savings with reduction in heating/cooling energy demands.
  2. The Green Wall, populated with native vegetation, will provide native habitat for plants, insects and birds.
  3. Water harvesting for irrigation use will reduce potable water consumption and remove water from the waste stream by reusing it through irrigation. The process will also cleanse pollutants through phytoremediation by plant material, thereby addressing water quality and quantity issues.
  4. Sustainability promoting aesthetics - when people or campus departments are excited about green technologies they are more likely to adopt sustainable practices themselves.
  5. The Green Wall will also contribute to noise pollution absorption, air quality and carbon sequestration, and urban heat island reduction.  
  6. The Green Wall addresses 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.
  7. The Green Wall will continue to address the criteria of the CPO SustainAbilities Scorecard.
  8. Because the Green Futures Lab overlooks the Green Wall, the project is a direct connection to this valuable campus resource.

Leadership and Student Involvement

  1. Current graduate student and GFL Student Manager Emma Petersen will be leading the effort to replant the Green Wall over Spring and Summer 2021. This offers her a chance to develop skills in project management, construction, campus coordination, maintenance, research, and leadership of their peers, UW staff and a contractor.
  2. Students will be able to take part in installing Green Wall plants this spring and summer following all UW Covid-19 protocols.

Education, Outreach, and Behavior Change

  1. The College of Built Environments houses over 700 students and 185 faculty/staff in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, Construction Management, and Real-estate - all disciplines that directly benefit from the educational and research components of the Green Wall. Because of its ecological and stormwater benefits, the Green Wall also has the potential to appeal to the Engineering Departments as well as the College of the Environment.
  2. With its proximity to main campus and Schmitz Hall, the Green Wall has the potential to be a stopping point along guided Campus Tours, reaching out to prospective students as well as demonstrating UW’s commitment to sustainability.
  3. Students will have the opportunity to research and monitor the Biodiversity Green Wall and present their findings in various courses as well as co-publish and present this research at conferences and in academic publications.
  4. Because of its online documentation, the Biodiversity Green Wall has the potential to be a role model for other Design Colleges and Universities across the country as a showcase of sustainability and a display of integrated inter-disciplinary student work.
  5. The Green Wall aligns with the goals of the College of Built Environment to integrate sustainability for a “tangible improvement of built and natural environments.”

Feasibility and Accountability

  1. With the support of the Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture, the GFL is again reaching out to coordinate meetings between all parties involved with the Green Wall, to ensure that the irrigation system is repaired before planting. The wall’s irrigation system has functioned adequately in the past so we are confident that it can be repaired.
  2. The student lead on the project is graduating from the Masters of Landscape Architecture program this Spring and has project management experience from other GFL projects. The GFL Director is a licensed Landscape Architect and will continue to provide leadership and advising for the student team.
  3. With anticipated return to in-person instruction in Autumn 2021, GFL staff and Director will be able to regularly monitor both on-line documentation of wall watering as well as live inspection of soil moisture and plant health.

The GFL has an extensive project portfolio with successful projects and is committed to the long-term success of the Biodiversity Green Wall.


  • Soil and Plant Replacement:  $6,000
  • GFL Design, Organization, Communication, and Oversight: $1,500

Tentative Timeline:

  • Design, Ordering - Late Spring and Early Summer 2021
  • Planting - Summer 2021
  • Monitoring - Autumn 2021
Primary Contact First & Last Name: Emma Petersen