Misunderstanding of Green Design

Plant Wall

Green Wall LEED?

You can spot a lot of this kind of walls with plants in China. The reason why many businesses there like this feature is to give the general public the business impression of caring for the environment, but for me, it is just another example of misunderstanding of green design.

When you see this kind of plant wall on a building, it serves a purpose which is lowering the interior temperature when facing the right direction. Therefore, it helps reducing the interior temperature and cutting down the electricity used on AC for the building. It will also reduce the sunlight reflection bouncing off the walls so the temperature surrounds the building will not increase drastically which might contribute to Head Island Effect. Well, the other side of the plant walls in the photo is a construction site.

Also, those plants are not the plants that you can just leave them along without giving them water, and the water they used to irrigate these plants is clean water, not gray water or rain water harvested. So, they are actually increasing the burden for natural resources on earth. Therefore, these walls might look nice but do not have any value in terms of earning LEED points or have anything to do with green design except they look green, color wise.

Old design habit that is not “Green”

I realize some design practices in the interior design field actually fundamentally block the practices of sustainable design. For examples, to obtain LEED credits for the Materials & Resources 1.2 – Maintain Interior Non Structural Components; 3.1 – Material Reuse; 3.2 – Materials Reuse – Furniture and Furnishings for the commercial interiors, interior designers and contractors must decide to reuse building and construction materials as well as furniture and furnishings, well, many contractors and interior designers still charge certain percentage on every product they buy as a part of their profits which means the more things are reused, the less profits the designers or contractors will make.

Also, in South Florida, most of the projects are built based on one design principle – we design as it builds. Many designers don’t even have a drawing for the contractors to build, instead, many designers just design everything on site verbally or with some simple design sketches faxed to the job site for the contractors to build. To design a LEED certified building, a lot of design details need to be addressed before the construction even begins. Many strategies also need to be determined prior to construction. How can anyone design any LEED certified project by “saying” designs on site?!