Green walls improve living conditions in Nigeria

Green walls improve living conditions in Nigeria

Cardiff University researchers have shown that green walls inside homes can bring down temperatures and provide a way for families to generate income

green walls cool the air and provide plants to sell
A novel approach for tackling high indoor temperatures and producing an income stream for families in Nigeria has been developed and tested by researchers at Cardiff University.
 
The team of experts in architecture and business has developed affordable and environmentally friendly vertical greening systems, or green walls, which have the potential to bring health and economic benefits to low-income families across Africa.
 
Green walls are vertical structures that are covered in plants, often supported by a metal or wooden frame that holds soil or another growing medium.
 
They have risen in popularity over recent years and are used in residential and commercial buildings around the world, not only because they look appealing, but because they help reduce temperatures, provide crops for food and increase biodiversity.
 
 
HDPE framework for the plants
A bamboo framework for the plants
In the Cardiff study, the team adopted a ‘responsible innovation approach’ by jointly developing appropriate green wall technology with the community of Agege, a large shanty town in Lagos, the most populated city in Nigeria. Materials were locally sourced and the community was involved in designing, building and maintaining the prototypes.
 
Two different green walls were installed outside two houses, one made from from affordable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and the second from eco friendly bamboo. They were filled with a range of edible and medicinal plants and secured to the outside walls of rooms where people slept or congregated.
 
Internal air temperatures, relative humidity and wall surface temperatures were recorded for each of the rooms next to the green walls, as well as for comparable rooms with no green walls installed.
 
The green walls were shown to reduce internal air temperatures within the adjacent room by an average of 2.3°C, with occupants inside reporting to be comfortable 90%–100% of the time, against 23%–45% in the control room.
 
Co-authors of the study, Dr Clarice Bleil de SouzaDr Julie Gwilliam and Dr Oluwafeyikemi Akinwolemiwa, say they're impressed: 'It’s clear from these results that vertical greening systems can bring both thermal comfort and economic benefits, with the possibility to grow food and medicinal plants in overcrowded areas in Africa, potentially offering the most significant positive impact.'
 
The researchers also performed a full cost analysis taking into account the price of materials, labour to build green walls and then maintain them over a number of years.
 
Co-author Prof Luigi De Luca from Cardiff Business School says both prototypes could be very profitable and repay the investments relatively quickly. 'However, it’s also possible,' he says, 'that residents may want to consume the produce they grow themselves rather than sell it on, especially considering that low income families in Nigeria spend a high proportion of their money on food and drink.
 
'There are many more improvements and issues to consider to make this viable and more affordable for families across Africa, but the development of this product roadmap will hopefully propel efforts to make this system a reality and provide a lasting change for people across the continent.'
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