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Barangaroo gets an Aussie-first “breathing wall”

Lendlease’s new headquarters at its Barangaroo South development has become the first to install a new green wall technology researchers say absorbs carbon dioxide faster than any other plant system.

Dubbed a “breathing wall” by its developers Junglefy, the 5000-plant, two-storey system at Barangaroo is designed to remove pollutants as well as cool the indoor environment, helping to reduce airconditioning costs. For a typical office, simulations have estimated the technology could cut HVAC energy use by 33 per cent. Noise reduction is another benefit, with a 41 per cent reduction in reflected noise compared to a conventional building wall.

The system is composed of modules made from low-density recyclable polyethylene, with a growing medium high in coconut fibre. The system is actively ventilated via an electric axial impeller, providing airflow across the plants and growing medium, which acts to increase the rate of carbon dioxide draw down, and the volume of air that can be filtered and cooled by each module.

“We are proud to have partnered with Junglefy, one of Australia’s leading living infrastructure specialists to deliver Australia’s first breathing wall, to provide a safer, more comfortable and productive working environment,” head of Lendlease workplace programs Cate Harris said.

The system has undergone extensive testing at the University of Technology Sydney, where a two-year study found it was able to absorb carbon dioxide, particulates and volatile organic compounds at significant rates. In fact, it was recorded as absorbing 24.2 litres of carbon dioxide an hour, which the study authors said was one of the highest recorded carbon dioxide removal rate recorded in scientific literature.

“Our research has shown that the new approach taken by Junglefy delivers some of the highest photosynthetic carbon dioxide removal rates observed in research to date,” UTS Plants and Environmental Quality Research Group leader Dr Fraser Torpy said.

VOCs were removed at 1.5 times the rate of an equivalent amount of pot plants, while 95 per cent of <PM10 particulates were removed.

Junglefy owner and founder Jock Gammon said the system was more than just a green wall.

“Our breathing wall actively pulls air through the module and over the leaves and growing medium,” he said. “This active ventilation offers all the benefits of a traditional green wall or pot plants – reducing carbon dioxide levels, filtering out air pollutants, and cooling and humidifying indoor air – but at a much greater level of efficiency.”

Dr Torpy said hundreds of pot plants or a much larger green wall system would be needed in an office to achieve similar results to the breathing wall.

“Three papers based on our studies have been peer reviewed and now await publication,” he said. “The promising results indicate that further research into the health-giving effects of plants in green wall systems would be valuable given how many of us are spending hours every day in offices and other enclosed spaces.”

Comments

3 Responses to “Barangaroo gets an Aussie-first “breathing wall””

  • Wonderful to see this happen in Australia and I look forward to the research papers. I first came across these walls while researching in Toronto. Those are based on NASA space technology and research.

  • Fraser Torpy says:

    Hello Ron: I hope we are doing justice to the research group you founded all those years ago!

    We are unfamiliar with the Umow Lai biofiltration system: given the data that you posted elsewhere it appears that you got some outstanding results. Have they been published, or are otherwise available publicly? The present difficulty in comparing any forms of green wall systems is a barrier to development of our field. The data you described would make a very valuable contribution to the literature.

  • Congratulations to Lend Lease on the installation of this “breathing green wall”

    However it is not the first in Australia.

    This occurred in 2007 in the Melbourne offices of Environmental Engineers Umow Lai, the first in Victoria to achieve a 6 Star – Green Star Office Interiors rating, it became an Australian first under the direction of Shane Esmore, director and head of sustainability for the installation of five biofiltration walls, bioengineered from a Canadian design, under the guidance and direction of Dr. Ronald Wood of Innovative Plant Technology, the founder of Plants and Indoor Air Quality research at UTS.

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