One Central Park has been a game-changer for the architectural design industry in more ways than one. Green walls, for instance, began to trend after this award-winning mixed-use building in Sydney incorporated plants into its exterior. Many real estate developers and architects are integrating green walls in their designs, having realised the many benefits of a green facade.

While adding plants to vertical surfaces is a wonderful idea, it’s important to remember that a green wall does not automatically make the building sustainable.

Making a green wall sustainable

For a green wall to be sustainable, the inputs must balance the outputs. This means benefits derived from the green wall need to equal the resources put into the wall. Several factors will have to be considered when designing and constructing a green wall. Failure to do so may result in an attractive piece of architecture without any sustainability goals.

What’s the objective?

A green wall can accomplish several goals, but a main driver is required to guide the design. Common goals for green walls include beautification, improving thermal efficiency, water retention, CO2 reduction or just the need to connect with nature.

At One Central Park, the primary goal was to project an impressive look to attract more buyers for the apartments. The building’s green wall provided other benefits, but it was uniquely designed for its beauty.

A primary goal established at the beginning of the design process compels developers to stay focussed. If the goal is for the green wall to retain water, the designers need to choose plants that can do that job or risk failure.

Understanding primary and secondary benefits

Most green walls will offer secondary benefits in addition to the primary objective. If the green wall has been built specifically to improve the building’s thermal efficiency, the plants will almost certainly give the occupants both functional benefits such as CO2 reduction as well as aesthetic benefits.

Single-minded focus on the primary goal during the design process will help create sustainable green walls that improve the environment.

Tensile is an Australian company specialising in the design, supply and installation of tensile architectural solutions including rope systems, wire ropes, threads and stainless steel mesh.

Image: One Central Park