11-13 May 2021
Darling Harbour, ICC SYDNEY

5 Benefits of Green Infrastructure

Apr 29, 2020 Sustainability

Green walls, equal greener cities. As urban growth continues to escalate in Australian cities, architects and designers look to green infrastructure to boost building sustainability.

Australian cities face increasing pressure from rapid urbanisation and population growth. According to government estimates, more than two-thirds of Australia’s population are living in capital cities. “Green” infrastructure, which is an integrated network of environmental features within an urban landscape, is an evolving approach to urban design that aims to mitigate the effects of urbanisation and climate change.

The benefits of Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure improves the quality and livability of urban environments, increasing their adaptability and resilience to climate change. Recently, green walls have grown in popularity, with a vast majority of large-scale outdoor green walls built after 2007. Green walls also feature in the planning policies of local governments across most major cities in Australia.

The benefits of green roofs, walls, and facades flow to individuals, communities, and organizations. Here are some of the leading benefits for incorporating green infrastructure, and more specifically, vertical garden systems.

Improved air quality

Green infrastructure results in improved urban quality due to the increased presence of greenery in cities, which remove pollutants from the air. Green walls can remove up to 40% of nitrogen oxide (NO2) and 50% of particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres (PM10) or less from the air at street level. They also sequester carbon dioxide (CO02) in plant biomass and substrate.

Improved water quality

Green infrastructure can slow and clean rainwater run-off from buildings, improving water quality, and minimising the effect that polluted run-off has on natural waterways. Green spaces, which require non-potable water for irrigation, also provide re-use for harvested stormwater.

Biodiversity

Green roofs, walls and facades provide additional space for living organisms to find food and shelter, increasing urban biodiversity. Designers can encourage biodiversity by, for example, adding nesting houses for birds and focusing on indigenous vegetation local to the area.

Thermal and acoustic comfort

Green roofs, walls and facades protect buildings from outside noise, creating healthier and peaceful indoor environments. They can also provide thermal insulation, reducing the reliance on artificial heating and cooling. According to the City of Melbourne’s Valuing Green Guide: Green Roofs, Walls and Facades, an extensive green roof can save a multi-storey building up to 5% on annual heating and cooling while single-storey buildings can save approximately 25% to 35%.9. Green walls and facades have been shown to deliver similar energy savings.

Green infrastructure also mitigates the “Urban Heat Island” (UHI) effect, which refers to an urban microclimate that is significantly warmer than surrounding areas, this is due to the lack of green cover and the prevalence of hard surfaces that absorb and radiate heat. Studies have shown that vertical greening systems are an effective strategy to mitigate UHI effects.

Improved health, wellbeing and productivity

The combined effect of the above benefits contributes to improved health and wellbeing for occupants and urban city dwellers. An effective network of green infrastructure has a cooling effect that reduces heat stress and heat-related illnesses, improves air quality, and enhances thermal and acoustic comfort. Research has also shown that there are psychological benefits and increased rates of productivity when humans are surrounded by elements from the natural environment.

This post is an extract from the whitepaper ‘Green Walls, Greener Cities: Boosting Sustainability with Verticle Garden Sytems’ by Fytogreen, click here to visit their website and find out more.

Geoff Heard, Managing Director of Fytogreen will join a panel discussion at DesignBUILD’s 2020 Speaker Series ‘Getting beyond Carbon NetZero to Zero: Is it even possible for the built environment?’ – register now to attend for free.
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