The Living Wall
The Living Wall at Saint Mary's
Installed in 2009, the living wall at Saint Mary's University is the centerpiece of the Atrium & Global Learning Commons. The wall measures 12.2m x 6.1m (40’ x 20') and spans three floors. The living wall is a dynamic indoor environment that hosts various species of bacteria, plants and insects. The living wall not only looks impressive, it cleans our air and even provides psychological benefits to improve our mood and productivity. It has recently been the site of a pilot project to measure the effects of using beneficial insects to control plant pests on these unique vertical plantscapes.
The primary purpose of the living wall is to cleanse the air of gaseous chemicals (volatile organic compounds, or VOCs) given off by common building materials, furnishings and electronic equipment. Plants and root dwelling bacteria have the ability to remove these compounds from the air, improving our air quality. The Saint Mary's living wall is tied in with the HVAC system, which circulates air throughout the building. Air is drawn through the wall and into the water that runs behind it. Airborne compounds diffuse into the water, which allows bacteria to break these compounds down into harmless substituents.