Specification Review: Six Factors to Consider When Selecting Living Walls

Sourced from Architect Magazine

All the reasons that make living walls attractive for commercial spaces also make them desirable for healthcare facilities. Vegetation-covered walls can help remove toxins and particulates from the air, increase oxygen levels, reduce stress, and foster calming environments—all of which are beneficial to patients and medical staff.

Similar to felt or wool acoustical panels, living walls can provide remarkable levels of sound absorption, says Nathan Beckner, lead plant designer at Chicago-based custom living wall manufacturer Sagegreenlife. They can also help projects earn LEED and WELL Building Standard credits, he adds.

However, says David Briefel, regional sustainability director at Gensler’s New York office, living walls can increase energy use. “But oftentimes the benefits [to the end users] outweigh the impact.”

Here are six considerations for designing a living wall in a healthcare environment.

Light

An indoor living wall should be situated for maximal exposure to daylight, if possible, although LED lights can be added as a supplement. For a living wall to survive under electric lighting, Matt Hills, Assoc. AIA, a designer for the Reading, Pa.–based interior landscaping company Ambius, recommends ceiling-mounted fixtures with a minimum of 5,000 lux (250 foot-candles) and a 4300K color temperature—similar to the properties of natural daylight.

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