Sourced from Daily Commercial News
Once a rare feature only found in a select number of buildings, living walls are now becoming more common.
But there are a lot of variables in their design and construction and members of the still-young living wall industry need to fully understand the needs of their designer/contractor/ developer clients, says living wall specialist Ashley DeMarte, founder of Livescape, a company which builds and maintains them.
“After all, these systems are designed to be a living component of the building and buildings last for a long time.”
A former tropical greenhouse worker who subsequently became a subcontractor for another living wall company, DeMarte drew on her knowledge and experience of both industries to establish Livescape three years ago.
Based in Waterloo Region, it has taken on projects in other parts of the country and is pursuing contracts throughout North America.
DeMarte entry into the trade can be traced back to her high school and university years working part time at a tropical greenhouse. During that almost 10-year period she learned both the horticultural and business components of the greenhouse industry. While attending the University of Windsor she learned about a firm that designed living walls and living roofs and decided she wanted to work for that company.
“I saw it as perfect way to blend my love for tropical plants with my university education in Environmental Studies and Visual Arts.”
Initially hired as a subcontractor to service the company’s systems in southern Ontario, she was later hired as a full-time employee, eventually overseeing all its projects in Canada and the United States. A few years later she was downsized in a restructuring. Even though laid off, she received a call asking for a quote.
“That’s when the entrepreneurial light bulb lit up for me and I decided to start Livescape.”
Right from the start, however, its business model and direction has been one DeMarte believes sets it apart from other contractors.
“After working in the living wall and living roof industry I saw an opportunity to create a more multifaceted living wall company — one with a focus on providing a system that is best suited for the clients and goes beyond a single system approach.”
Livescape meets the requirements of its clients by working with several suppliers, not being the sole representative of one, she explains.