• Mary Tondolo

Architecture clad with Vegetation - Sustainable or not?

There is a fad that to make a building sustainable, no let's say to make it appear sustainable, it has to be clad with vegetation even if it is a twenty to thirty storey high building.

Trees are bending and bursting out of low strung balconies, balustrades are burdened with vines and windows have become back-stage props. From street level all this green scenery could just as well be faux planting.

But is all this greenery make-up really sustainable?

Consider the labour intensive gardening maintenance required: Streams of gardeners that consume lift energy to travel up and down for maintenance, watering systems that have to be installed to keep the plants alive, rotation of plants as they become disenchanted with their artificial environment and the high wind pressures they may not be accustomed to if planted on external balconies. On top of that consider the construction detailing and expense of providing waterproofed tanking for the planters, and the space required to fit them in.

What a disappointing sight if the fad wears out and the maintenance regime of the planting is no longer continued.

Would it not be more sustainable to rationalize our use of land by optimizing natural resources and by avoiding the wanton depletion of ground sustained vegetation?

I would like to hear your comments on the subject.

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