Living Walls Inject Natural Beauty, Color Into Design

Who said it’s not easy being green? The color evokes a sense of freshness, vibrancy and a call to the outdoors. Hotels and designers are embracing this acidic hue in more ways than one—think soil-free living walls, hydroponic gardens, as well as splashes of bold paint colors or accents in furnishings—to create environments that are distinctive, energizing and memorable.

At Sagegreenlife, a designer of living walls and interior decor products based here, the emphasis is on integrating three elements: design, nature and technology. Founder Richard Kincaid witnessed the growth of “authentic sustainability” in Europe and was eager to bring this trend to the U.S., but first he had to solve the problem of upkeep on these vertical gardens.

“We noted that the large living walls that were being installed in Europe were beautiful, but very difficult to maintain. Our patented growth system was designed to address the issues with these early living walls, and we have been able to do so in a very cost effective, flexible way,” said Kincaid. “The proliferation of LEED-certified buildings and the wellness movement have only accelerated the adoption of living walls as part of a comprehensive sustainability strategy. We have also benefited from corporations’ focus on creating better work environments for their employees. The key to increasing demand was to offer customers a more functional version of the product they want, and it has worked out nicely.”

In the hospitality industry, the benefits of living walls are numerous. They make a highly visible sustainability statement, can earn LEED credits and successfully absorb sound in large spaces, according to Kincaid. This may also be a more cost-effective way to upgrade a space.

“It is much more budget-friendly to install a large green wall than it would be to replace granite or marble in a hotel. Typically, our clients are using our product to replace another material, which reduces the overall cost of an installation," he said. "Moreover, most hotels already spend a significant amount on interior landscaping that is only marginally impactful—both visually and functionally. When working with us, our clients discover that our system requires very little maintenance, which can reduce costs, and the large surface area is much more impactful than a plant in the corner.”

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