Millennials might be “killing” napkins, chain restaurants, and golf. But one thing the generation that just came of age loves to do is garden. The millennial green thumb is having a huge impact on urban home design, with more renters than ever filling their living spaces with potted plants and mini-plots of carefully tilled soil.
One of the hottest trends in home gardening is the idea of a living wall—a wall virtually covered in foliage. The benefits of dedicating a large portion of your wall space to plants are numerous, but there are certain things to consider before jumping in with both trowels. Here’s three things to know before you build a living wall.
1. Living walls help you save energy
This is a blog about saving energy, so we would be remiss if we failed to explain how a wall of plants, well, saves you energy! According to the folks at Ambius, “Unlike brick or concrete, plant surfaces don’t store up solar energy, but reflect it. Both interior and exterior walls help to actively cool the air in summer by a process called evapotranspiration, reducing the need to cool the building. (A living wall) will insulate the building and reduce energy costs for heating the building in winter as well.”
2. Know your limitations
Some plants require more management than others. A croton, for example, requires half a dozen hours of sunlight and near constant watering in order to survive. If you know your lifestyle or gardening skills won’t be commensurate with the amount of time it takes to keep a finicky plant alive, plan realistically. There’s nothing wrong with a living wall of succulents.
3. Know your price range
Like many energy saving measures, living walls are an investment. Know how much you are willing to pay up front—according to Housetrends, living walls run around $90-130 per square foot for installation and irrigation. And know how long you plan to live in your dwelling so you can make the investment worth it. If you can swing it, now might be the perfect time to make your walls come alive.
2016 was a pivotal year for various trends in the energy-saving and sustainability department. This past year was all about integrating rather than changing one specific technology or behavior at a time, and companies have really begun to take on the challenge of going green through various projects that work together toward the goal of saving energy. Let’s take a look at some energy-saving trends throughout 2016 and how they’ve impacted sustainability goals everywhere.
Smart building initiatives were a major trend in 2016. These intelligent edifices have become popular investments amongst businesses both small and large because of the increasing capabilities of energy management systems (EMS) and interconnected sensors. Owners can now capture data regarding a building’s energy usage in order to take on initiatives to increase their company’s energy savings. Smart buildings and the concept of human-building interaction (HBI) have made it possible to create a structure based on how it’s used by its inhabitants. This promotes more efficient use of the building.
We’ve Embraced Batteries
The cost of lithium batteries has decreased dramatically, which made battery usage a widespread trend this past year. For example, batteries have been used for the power grid to avoid building and using on-demand power plants. Electric car makers such as Tesla and Nissan are increasingly using low-cost batteries, which then reduce the cost of their electric vehicles. This makes the electric vehicle more affordable, increasing their usage around the country. Home and business owners have also begun to use more battery-operated technology as power rates increase.
Shedding Light on Li-Fi
Li-Fi, or light fidelity, is light-based communication technology that uses light waves to deliver data. With Li-Fi, LED lamps can transmit data at extremely fast speeds. Companies have started to release Li-Fi-powered LED lights, increasing both the use of Li-Fi and LED lighting (which has proved to use less electricity than fluorescent lighting). The goal of the technology is to completely replace traditional Wi-Fi as it will be much more energy-efficient and cost-effective based on its use of LED lighting. Saving money, time, and energy, the question of implementing this technology in all households and buildings is quite the no-brainer.
Industrial self-generation of energy has increased significantly. Companies have grown more and more intrigued by creating their own energy source right on site. In doing this, they can more effectively manage their utility costs. Business owners are installing solar panels and micro grids, and making use of battery storage in order to localize their energy sources. More and more businesses have taken the initiative to become aware of their energy usage and how that usage effects company costs and fees. Plus, self-generation of energy can significantly reduce a business’ carbon footprint, making it increasingly appealing to its target consumer.