TROY, N.Y. — Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute working at the Institute’s Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) in New York City have spent several years researching ways to harness plants’ natural abilities to filter toxins out of the air into an application that could be used in indoor spaces like office buildings. Those researchers have now unveiled the first public-scale prototype of their green wall. Two panels of plants, each 6 feet long and 7 feet tall and containing about 30 densely packed plants, will hang on a wall in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) building on the Rensselaer campus.
This work is “the result of years of interdisciplinary research at CASE spanning the fields of environmental and mechanical engineering, biology, and architectural sciences. We have recently expanded the team to include collaborators from the Rensselaer Smart Lighting Research Center and the departments of chemistry and chemical engineering. The technologies CASE researchers are developing, like this green wall, have the potential to revolutionize our ability to deliver clean air to urban populations, and reduce the carbon footprint of cities and buildings, by reducing the fossil fuel consumption of the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems,” said Anna Dyson, director of CASE.
The concept of a green wall isn’t a new one, but what makes this green wall prototype different is the way air is pulled through the plants to maximize the amount of airborne toxins filtered out.
“This particular green wall takes a step beyond previous green walls in that it seeks to improve air quality by amplifying the air filtration that naturally occurs in plants,” said Matt Gindlesparger, a lecturer at CASE who has led the research and prototyping of the green wall.
Gindlesparger said CBIS was a natural choice as a venue to showcase the green wall prototype. “CBIS is uniquely situated as part of the larger research culture of the Rensselaer campus and so this is a strategic alliance of the work we’re doing at CASE and the School of Architecture and the larger Institute.”
The prototype green wall is designed to be mobile so research on its effects can be conducted in different settings. The two panels can be coupled or de-coupled and moved into different environments within the building; they will initially be connected directly to the plumbing at CBIS, but the system is also designed with a water tank so it can operate without being directly connected to plumbing.
For more information, visit www.case.rpi.edu.