Sheffield leads study into use of ‘living walls’

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A YEAR-LONG research programme at The University of Sheffield is aiming to improve urban life in the UK through the use of ‘living walls’ like the one used on the side of M&S in Ecclesall Road.

The research will quantify the long-term effects of living walls - made by covering surfaces of buildings in plants and creating conditions for them to grow and thrive.

“Studies have shown that covering the surfaces of buildings in urban environments with green plants results in an improvement in air quality, aesthetics and wellbeing,” said Dr Hasim Altan from The University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture.

“However, most of these studies have taken place in climates significantly warmer than the UK. Our study will find out how living walls fare in the UK’s weather and how they can be of most benefit in this country.”

The benefits of living walls in terms of providing habitats for essential invertebrate life, birds and bees are also being assessed by the charity Buglife.

Quarterly analytical assessments are being undertaken to monitor the rich variety of ‘birds, bugs and bees’ which gravitate to areas of biodiversity in urban areas.

Juri Yoshimi, PhD Student and Research Assistant to Dr Altan, is running her own parallel research, exploring green walls and their thermal effects using a long term monitoring and simulation study.

Altogether, the research is the most comprehensive ever undertaken into living walls and the results are expected by the autumn.