Become an expert on delivering meaningful green space within your borough.
Concerned about fire standards and living walls? We've got you covered.Our Guide
Pushed to make your spaces more ‘nature-proof’? Let’s look at approaches and systems that have the science behind them on climate resilience.
Trying to balance development demands with nature objectives? There doesn’t always have to be compromise. The balance is down to design.
Need to alleviate the pressure on the infrastructure? Maybe it's time to look at blue-green infrastructure.
Advising architects and developers on what can and can’t be done? Build your expertise through workshops and training on delivery of green infrastructure.
Browse the range of online CPD sessions, from creating long-lasting environmental assets, to fire regulations, specifics about plants, and biopilic design.
Book a workshop for your team, in-person or online, where we'll discuss the opportunities and challenges with integrating GI in your area, looking at real projects, sites and drawings.
Your support to achieving a specific Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) score, or BREEAM Excellent standard is right here. Our experience in both horticulture and architectural design affords us a consolidated view of the opportunities there are in urban greening.
Biodiversity Net Gain
Building Research Establishment
Environmental Assessment Method
Urban Greening Factor
The M&E requirements are as follows:
These are provided by the main contractor or the client. For more details on M&E requirements for a living wall, please get in touch.
Payment for maintenance of a living wall normally comes down to the property owner, but sometimes the cost is passed onto the tenant.
The access requirements for maintenance depend on the living wall and location. For any living wall over 6 metres high, extra equipment is required for the twice-yearly horticultural husbandry visits. This could be a cherry picker, scissor lift, scaffold tower, spider lift or even access by abseil.
We wouldn’t select plants for a living wall that are poisonous or allergenic to people.
If a living wall is not maintained, becomes dry and dies, then it will become a fire hazard. This is why we stress the importance of maintenance to ensure the soil has a consistent moisture content and the plants are healthy.
There are a few things that you can do to mitigate the fire risk on a living wall. This includes adapting the build-up, plant selection, irrigation and maintenance schedules. Let’s take a look at what you can do to improve the safety of a living wall in each area:
If you integrate an A2 non-combustible build-up from the inside to the outside of the building, clad the building with a calcium silicate board or another material, then install the living wall on top of that, that improves the fire safety.
The second point is to include fire breaks every 2 metres up the elevation, to contain and stop the spread of fire.
Avoiding dry grasses and highly oily foliage in your plant palette will improve the fire safety of your finished design. Moving away from the dry oily species and towards evergreen plants that have limited leaf drop is recommended.
Irrigation is essential to fire safety as a basic rule. With the ANS Living Wall System, we design each living wall to have an electronic solenoid at every vertical metre, so each section of planting can be carefully monitored, and irrigation adjusted. This is to ensure the moisture level is kept at around 45%. As an addition to this irrigation system (which is a standard part of every living wall project we do), you could have an independent sprinkler system that comes out of the planting and drenches the façade in the event of a fire.
The most essential part to mitigating the fire risk of a living wall is ensuring maintenance. It must be a part of the property management scope that the green infrastructure is maintained and should be regarded just as seriously as any other element of the building.
This ensures that the planting and soil is kept in full health, at the right moisture levels with no dry or dead planting (which is more combustible) and the irrigation is serviced regularly.
A living wall can indeed help you to achieve biodiversity net gain (BNG). Using soil, and purposefully curating a plant palette that supports local biodiversity will aid net gain. You may find the guides we created with AECOM on using green infrastructure to help achieve BNG useful. These can be downloaded here. They cover how to design living walls (and green roofs) to achieve different BNG targets.
A living wall can be fixed back to almost any façade. With our four different green wall build-up options, we can fix back to:
Take a look at our living wall installation guide for build-up drawings.
The water from a green wall will need to be able to drain into a gutter, which is connected to a normal stormwater run-off system. It can also be connected to an eco-drain.
Living walls won’t reduce the general local air temperature, but will cool the immediate surroundings. McPherson (1994) noted how tests have shown temperature differences of up to 17°C between hard and vegetated surfaces in the same location. A study in Iran showed how a modular living wall system reduced the ambient air temperature by up to 8.7°C. This is due to the evapotranspiration of the soil and plants, where the water droplets released cool the air.
Living walls have been proven to help with carbon sequestration. In fact, a study by University of Dresden found that just 1m2 of living vegetation can remove 2.3kg of CO2 from the air every year. The combination of the soil and carefully selected plants capture and filter airborne pollutants.
The lifespan of plants in a living wall depends on the type used. Typically, we allow 3-5 years for herbaceous plants (plants with flexible, green stems with few to no woody parts), and 5-7 years for shrubs or plants with woodier stems (for example Begonias or Sarcococca Sweet box). Full plant replacement is covered in our maintenance contract.
Either us (ANS) or any other professional consultant on the project would be responsible for designing the living wall.
We don’t recommend that a living wall is maintained by the local community, as you cannot ensure the quality and thoroughness that a living wall requires to stay in full health.
Yes, rainwater can be used to irrigate a living wall. We call this rainwater harvesting. However, it is something to be discussed as early as possible in the project, as how the rainwater is collected and fed into the irrigation system needs to be planned out and integrated into designs.
You can’t normally fix a living wall back to a listed building, but you may be able to use a purpose-built steel frame, placed so it would not touch the original facade.
Living walls carry multiple advantages for gaining green credentials, however system choice and design plays a big part in what you can achieve. Natural soil is important for biodiversity and can also help towards BREEAM ratings. The plant palette can be created with the purpose of the project in mind, whether that is for biodiversity net gain, BREEAM or WELL standards.
We have experience with working on projects to aid compliance with Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), BREEAM, Urban Greening Factor (UGF) and working with a Circular Economy approach.
Living walls (or green walls) are unlikely to get vandalised. Here’s why:
The environmental benefits of a living wall that uses natural soil are several. Let’s look at air quality and biodiversity: