Nathalie Callede

Living Walls provide ecological value as well as aesthetic beauty

Living plant life walls, with running water behind them, remove chemicals from the home, provide humidity, and look nice.

In our continually growing “green” culture, there are very few products and practices that serve an ecological purpose and look good at the same time. People often have to choose between environmentally beneficial and aesthetically pleasing when designing their homes. But a Golden company has found a product that has countless “green” benefits, and looks beautiful in the home as well.

A Living Wall is a live plant wall that can go inside or outside of a building.

“The reason behind it is to purify indoor air. Everybody’s got formaldehyde, benzene, different chemicals that are existing in the home that we can’t do anything about. They’re in our carpets, they’re in our cheap doors, cheap flooring,” said Tim Suddaby, owner of Suddwick Homes that specializes in “green” homes.

Suddwick Homes works in conjunction with Vertical Oxygen, the company that makes the Living Walls. Nathalie Callede, the principal and designer at Vertical Oxygen is married to Suddaby.

“So what the Living Wall will do is absorb those chemicals. So that’s the first thing that they do. Then they provide oxygen. And the other big thing, in this climate, is they provide humidity, because there is water in the wall,” said Suddaby.

“There’s a cistern at the base, and there’s a pump in there that’s on a timer. The timer tells the pump to turn on, the water goes up to the top of the wall and irrigates the wall. So it’s basically a waterfall without seeing the water. So you’re getting all that humidification in your house, it’s just pure benefit, if your lips and your skin get dry in the winter.”

Suddaby is very happy to be able to offer his clients an ecologically beneficial product that looks great as well.

“There’s the basic functions of it, and then there’s the beauty, the aesthetic value are all pluses. It’s the function that we were thinking about first,” he said.

Living Walls can vary in sizes. At the Golden Spring Home and Lifestyle Show, Suddaby and Callede had two on display, the first was about two by two feet, and the other was the size of a full wall.

“It can go as small as two feet, up to, well the sky is the limit. You can build them as big as you can possibly imagine on the inside of a building. Out in Vancouver and in Europe they do them outside,” said Suddaby. “So you can have these beautiful Living Walls outside.”

A couple of decades ago, when building homes, contractors were selling customers on aesthetic upgrades such as granite countertops. They looked nice, but had no tangible benefit said Suddaby. He is glad that the market has shifted, and upgrades with more ecological value are more common.

Suddaby and Callede has recently started a research project with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), for which they are providing the Living Walls. They are testing to see if the Living Walls can be useful with regards to recycling rain water to reuse in people’s homes, particularly in toilets.

“We’re testing to see if a Living Wall will purify the water. They’re (SAIT) testing it, we’re just providing the Living Walls. We’re going to take rain water, and run it through three different sized Living Walls, and test the water at the base of each one. And hopefully we’ll come up with some great numbers. And if we’re successful in that, then that’s fantastic. It will open the door to a lot of commercial applications,” said Suddaby.

“If you’re paying for water as a business, in say downtown Vancouver, it’s expensive. So if you could recycle the water that comes from the sky, put it through a green wall, which is beautiful for people to see, creates oxygen and all those benefits, and it’s purifying the water that you could put in your toilets, it’s a huge step forward.”