Solar Ecology and Living Walls

A quick share for you on solar ecology implemented as design for the built environment from UT-Austin’s School of Architecture. It’s always worth noting that our buildings that we live and work in are another variant of solar energy conversion systems, and can benefit greatly from inspired design. The students and faculty of the UT-Austin School of Architecture and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center collaborated to implement a vertical “living wall”: complete with local plants native to the surrounding ecoregions, and “shelter for anole lizards, hummingbirds, butterflies, and songbirds, among other beneficial fauna.” The system creates a cooler microclimate adjoining the building, and can help to defry costs to cool the interior during the hot Austin summers.

Excerpted from the source article by writer Sara Lentz: “Campus Installs First Living Wall: Collaboration between the School of Architecture and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center explores the role of architecture in ecology.”:

“To give the plants their best chance, Danelle Briscoe, an assistant professor in the School of Architecture, developed a honeycomb-shaped architectural structure, currently patent-pending. Its 148 “cells” (soil containers) were designed to accommodate a greater amount of dirt than is typically used — critical to sustaining the plants in Austin’s subtropical climate.

Michelle Bright, an environmental designer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, chose native plants from ecoregions around Austin for the wall pods (including wildflowers, succulents, shrubs, vines and grasses). These visually striking and heat-tolerant plants also serve as a wildlife habitat.

The carefully selected native plants were chosen to attract and provide shelter for anole lizards, hummingbirds, butterflies, and songbirds, among other beneficial fauna.” –credit: Sara R. Lentz, June 20 2016.

I remember our own Penn State Solar Decathlon 2009 team developing living walls inside and outside the Natural Fusion home. What a fun solar development!

More Info: For quick additional descriptions surrounding living walls, check on the Wikipedia site for the synonymous term, green walls.

-JRSB

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