Last semester, for Vibha’s research class, Laura Cale and I completed a paper regarding acoustics within an office environment and the impact that sound levels have on a person’s stress levels and consequently health. Therefore, this article interests me greatly as a solution Laura and I had not even considered was the possibility of a green wall to absorb sound.
The article discusses the possibility of using plant walls as absorptive material for buildings both large and small scale. Agricultural Engineer Zaloa Azkorra noted that her “study was prompted by the lack of credible research available that recognized the acoustic properties of green walls” (Fedele, 2015). The results of her tests show that “the green wall showed a similar or better acoustic absorption coefficient than other common building materials, and its effects on low frequencies were of particular interest, because its observed properties were better than those of some current sound-absorbent materials at low frequencies” (Fedele, 2015).
Azkorra’s research makes sense though. The more porous and complex the surface of a material is, the more likely it will absorb sound, which can be a great way to not only treat the acoustic quality of a space, even large spaces like a concert hall, but also provide for other indoor qualities green walls have been known to address, such as air quality.
My initial thoughts on this possibility for noise control within a building are that it is a great idea. My second thought is, “Who on earth is going to care for all those plants? What about water leakage? What about the sheer weight of that wall? What about plants that die? What if someone has allergies?” Fortunately, Azkorra recognizes these issues as well and points out that there is still much to be researched and that cost and issues such as maintenance are still being investigated. I agree that it is a promising avenue to pursue, but that there is still much work to be completed, and practicalities to be addressed.
Fedele, A. (2015, January 16). Green Walls Support Interior Acoustics. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from http://sourceable.net/green-walls-support-interior-acoustics/#