Research: Living Walls

Matthew is currently working with academics at the University of Plymouth, to research into the thermal impact from adding an external living wall to the facade of existing buildings. 

Living wall systems are a relatively new form of façade cladding treatment on buildings. Bringing a host of benefits such as added biodiversity, they also have the potential to aid the thermal efficiency of a wall construction by offering an extra layer of thermal resistance. Yet few studies have been conducted to ascertain the thermal influence of living wall systems can have on existing buildings.

This study reviews the impact of living walls upon the thermal and environmental performance of buildings and isolates a lack of research that directly measures associated retrofitted living wall thermal performance. Through a case study, part of the work has monitored the heat flux through a pre 1970s uninsulated cavity masonry wall construction that has been retrofitted with an external living wall system face. Results have been compared with identical wall build-ups on the same elevation without a living wall facade.

Initial results found that the calculated thermal transmission value for the pre 1970s wall with an additional Living wall façade cladding was 31.4% lower than that of the same wall without the living wall. Furthermore, diurnal fluctuations in heat flux were lower over the study period for the wall with the living wall system cladding. These findings demonstrated that a living wall façade has the potential to offer a viable solution for helping to minimise heat loss from existing buildings of this construction.

Research from this project has led to the publication of several high impact journal papers including: 

Fox, M., Morewood, J., Murphy, T., Lunt, P., Goodhew, S. (2021) Living wall systems for improved thermal performance of existing buildings. Building and Environment, 207, Part A, January 2022, 108491. DOI: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108491

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