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27th February 2017

The Acoustic Benefits of Living Walls and Green Roofs

One of the lesser-known benefits of creating a green space within a building is its ability to improve acoustics. A green roof or exterior living wall can help to minimise noise pollution from outside, whilst an interior living wall helps with reducing the amount of noise that travels within a building. So whether it’s your home, school, office or a hospital – living walls and green roofs are a solution for everyone.

So, here’s the science behind how it works – stems, leaves, branches and wood absorb sound and those with a rougher surface are particularly effective. This is because they reduce reverberation time. For rooms that have exposed concrete or stone floors, where controlling acoustics can be a challenge, including an interior living wall can make a really impressive difference. However, don’t let that stop you from choosing an exterior living wall or a green roof instead – these can also provide acoustical benefits, but specifically combatting outside noise.

Don’t believe us? Well, studies from the US might convince you. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America compared the use of living walls to man-made acoustic structures and has found that:

Bad acoustics has been linked to all sorts of health problems, such as sleep disorders and tinnitus; noise pollution has even been linked to obesity. Compare this to an acoustically sound building and it is only good news – improving acoustics has been linked to an increased feeling of wellness and lowering blood pressure.

The benefits can be seen across all sectors, too. At home, the improved acoustics can help create a healthier environment or simply aid a better night’s sleep. Similarly, hotels will want to consider this for their guests.


However, for schools and offices it’s the intrusive noise from other people’s conversations, steady hum of machines or telephones ringing that is the biggest disturbance. Unwanted noise is estimated to cause workers to lose as much as 24 days of productivity a year and school pupils can struggle to hear their teacher. 

The best part is that the more plants, or the larger their size or area of greenery, the better the effect and the greater the sound absorption – so make the most of our design service and choose as many plant varieties as you like!