Biowall Presentation.doc - An Investigation Into the Feasibility

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					                        2008


         An Investigation Into the
Feasibility of Biowall Technology




                        By: Kent Butkovich, Jeffrey Graves, Jenn
                        McKay, & Marlene Slopack
                        George Brown College Applied Research &
                        Innovation
                        4/17/2008
Table of Contents

        Executive Summary…………………………………………………………………………………………… pg. i

1.0     Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………                   pg. 1

2.0     Purpose of Study………………………………………………………………………………………..                pg. 2

3.0     Biowall Basics………………………………………………………………………………………………                 pg. 2

        3.1     Air Quality……………………………………………………………………………………..              pg. 2

        3.2     Biofiltration…………………………………………………………………………………….             pg. 5

        3.3     Biowall…………………………………………………………………………………………                  pg. 6

4.0     Plants……………………………………………………………………………………………………..                     pg. 7

        4.1     Effect on Air Quality…………………………………………………………………………..        pg. 7

        4.2     Psychological Effects…………………………………………………………………………          pg. 8

        4.3     “Biophilia”………………………………………………………………………………………               pg. 9

        4.4     A List of Plants for a Biowall………………………………………………………………….   pg. 10

5.0     HVAC Systems……………………………………………………………………………………………                    pg. 10

        5.1     Passive & Active Systems…………………………………………………………………….        pg. 11

        5.2     Energy Savings…………………………………………………………………………………              pg. 12

6.0     Benefits of a Biowall………………………………………………………………………………………             pg. 13

        6.1     Green Recognition………………………………………………………………………………… pg. 13

        6.2     Benefits for the Occupants…………………………………………………………………….      pg. 13

        6.3     Benefits for the Building………………………………………………………………………..     pg. 14

7.0     Concerns……………………………………………………………………………………………………                     pg. 14

        7.1     Mould/Moisture Problems………………………………………………………………………         pg. 14

        7.2     Insects…………………………………………………………………………………………….                pg. 15

        7.3     Allergies…………………………………………………………………………………………..              pg. 15

        7.4     Maintenance……………………………………………………………………………………..              pg. 16

8.0     Research Possibilities……………………………………………………………………………………..           pg. 16

9.0     Structure / Construction……………………………………………………………………………………           pg. 16

9.1     Cost of the Biowall………………………………………………………………………………………….             pg. 17

10.0    Funding……………………………………………………………………………………………………...                   pg. 18
11.0   Recommendations & Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………         pg. 19

12.0   References………………………………………………………………………………………………….                 pg. 20

13.0   Appendices………………………………………………………………………………………………….                 pg. 23

       Appendix 1 Local Biowalls ………………………………………………………………………………         pg. 23

       Appendix 2 Possible funding Agencies………………………………………………………………..   pg. 24
Executive Summary


A Biowall is a vertical garden. It acts as a natural air filtration system. As air moves through the wall, impurities are
removed and clean air is distributed throughout the building via the HVAC system.




The study of a Biowall at George Brown College was undertaken for the following reason. In an effort to provide a
greener campus for the students and faculty, George Brown College is in the process of considering different options
for incorporating sustainable technology within the college. A Biowall is being proposed to be situated in the atrium
of the Casa Loma Campus E building. A Biowall would not only function as an aesthetic focal point to the building,
but would help clean the air, create a forum for applied research and a visual impetus to continue pursuing
sustainable development within the college.




The results of the study produced the following conclusions. The biowall could be effectively put to use in the
proposed location. Its benefits could be:

        Cleaner air with fewer pollutants such as formaldehyde, VOC‟s etc.
        Eventual cost savings through energy savings as ASHRAE implements a provision for Biowalls
        Improved well being for building occupants shown in studies indicating the greening of indoor spaces with
         reduction in fatigue levels and reduction in absenteeism
        Applied Research projects for example in possibly cleaning rainwater used for the Biowall.



The cost for the Biowall itself is estimated at $240,000.00 with an outside cost of $400,000.00 to include related costs
such as structural engineering, HVAC, architectural and a contingency fund.




At George Brown College, the Atrium space being considered has a unique situation. It is an unadorned, unfinished
3-storey concrete hole. This space looks like a mistake in the design of this building. Yet, it is a focal point as the
college community and its guests enter the premises. Introducing a Biowall here would change this mistake into a
beautiful, healthful and purposeful living wall.



                                                            i
1.0 Introduction



In our day to day lives we all face a variety of risks to our health and well being. As cities become more congested,
we are constantly exposed at varying degrees of risk to environmental pollutants produced by fuel emissions,
chemicals, building materials, metals, plastic compounds, bacteria etc… . Some risks are simply unavoidable; others
we choose to accept because to do otherwise would restrict our ability to function within our society. Currently there
is a shift towards investigating and implementing projects towards reducing the amount of pollutants and garbage we
produce as individuals, institutions and as a society. Indoor air quality (IAQ) has recently become an issue due to
scientific evidence that pollution levels within homes and buildings pose a more serious threat to our health than the
outdoor air in industrialized cities (Hodgson, 1997). People spend on average up to 80% of their time indoors on a
daily basis (Fjeld, 1998) thus, for many; the risks to health may be greater due to indoor air pollution than to outdoor
air pollution. In addition, people who spend more time exposed to indoor air pollutants for longer periods of time are
often more susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution. Population segments that are most at risk include the
young, the elderly, and the chronically ill and especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease
(US EPA, 2006). The fact is, that we are all at risk and after years of exposure to indoor pollutants the effects
gradually compound as we age.




The Environmental Protection Association (EPA) suggests three basic methods of improving indoor air quality:
control the source, improve ventilation, or use an air purifier. Another method of dealing with this type of problem is a
Biowall, a relatively new technology. A Biowall is an indoor vertical hydroponic green wall. Air is actively drawn
through the wall of plants and the root system in order to purify the air within a building (Darlington, 2007). Biowalls
are gaining acceptance in Asia, Europe and North America as a component in ecologically sustainable development.
With the growing concern of climate change and the need to develop sustainable strategies for urban environments,
building sustainably means more than just green building materials, construction techniques, and site selection. It
also means choosing systems that will create healthier environments using materials and methods that consume less
energy than present technology. The sustainable idea with regards to a Biowall is to improve the environment within
a building while increasing energy savings. Providing students and faculty with the incentive of a healthy indoor
environment by using alternative energy sources and air purification methods such as a Biowall in order to create and
maintain a healthy indoor environment will help to improve the quality of life for the community that attends our
college every day.

In today‟s world there is considerable emphasis on sustainable design. With all the concerns with the environment,
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is an important issue from a biological, social and economical point of view.

                                                           1
There are several design strategies that can be used to deliver good IAQ. Controlled ventilation, proper design, and
the use of appropriate healthy building systems can provide good indoor air quality if used as part of a holistic design
approach.

This paper will investigate the feasibility, benefits and sustainability of installing a Biowall within the atrium space in E
building Casa Loma campus.




2.0 Purpose of Study:



George Brown College‟s Applied Research and Innovation Department has hired students from the Architectural
Technology program to conduct a general overview of the Biowall technology and its appropriateness for our college.
George Brown College is in the process of considering different options for incorporating green technology within the
college. One of those options being considered is the installation of a Biowall in the E Building atrium of the Casa
Loma campus.




Although some universities have already done studies of these walls and have constructed these walls, George
Brown College feels that it is necessary to conduct its own study to better understand how this technology works, and
whether it delivers on its promise of cleaner air, energy savings, and other benefits for our specific site. The team
was given the task of collecting information on Biowalls to understand its technology, effectiveness as well as
addressing any critical issues that may be of concern.




3.0 Biowall Basics:

         3.1 Air Quality

George Brown students spend their time inside. With so many hours being spent indoors, it is essential for our
buildings to provide high quality air to those who occupy them, since this impacts their well-being. Indoor air quality
is a major health concern and one of the major energy expenses for maintaining an adequate indoor air climate.
Buildings are constructed as air tight as possible in order to help lower energy costs. While this does trap the
“conditioned” indoor air within the structure, it also traps gaseous contaminates that arise within the space. One
particular concern is the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are represented by chemicals such
as formaldehyde, benzene and toluene. These chemicals arise from activities that occur within the building envelope,
building materials, and the occupants themselves. VOCs may arise from such products that include:

                                                             2
     Off-gassing of building materials such as drywall, adhesives, textiles, fabrics, plywood etc.
     New office furniture, rugs
     Cleaning agents, solvents, glues, caulking agents, paint
     Electronics (computers, photocopiers, fax machines, computer screens)
     Human occupants (hair spray, body gels, anti-perspirants, and other perfuming agents).
Source: (Berube, 2004).




If these chemicals are not controlled in a respectful manner it may accumulate to the point of affecting the well-being
of the occupants.




More than 10 years have passed since the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked indoor air pollution as
one of the top five environmental threats to public health and one of the largest remaining health risks in the United
States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common actual cause of
death in the US in 2000 were tobacco (435,000), microbial agents (such as influenza and pneumonia, 75,000), and
toxic agents (such as pollutants and asbestos, 55,000) (CDC Fact Sheet). Also, the American College of Allergy,
Asthma and Immunology in 2000 noted that 50 percent of all illnesses are either caused or aggravated by poor
indoor air quality (Abu-Shalback, L. The Impact of IAQ).




Some VOCs detected in indoor air are recognized carcinogens and there are reports of exposure to VOCs resulting
in symptoms varying from headache, nausea, dizziness to eye, skin, and throat irritations. The odour associated with
some VOCs may also cause complaints.




The impacts of indoor air pollution also affect the quality of a person‟s life in term of reduced or limited activities,
limited employment opportunities, and reduced productivity. Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a collection of non-
specific symptoms such as eye, nose, skin and throat irritations; headaches; fatigue; and/or skin rashes that have no
known cause. A number of indoor building conditions such as inadequate building ventilation, elevated levels of
VOCs, and other environmental stressors have all been implicated as potential causes.




“A paradigm shift from rather mediocre to excellent indoor environments is foreseen in the 21st century. Based on the
existing information and on new research results, five principles are suggested as elements behind a new philosophy
of excellence: (FASTS, Indoor Air Quality in the 21st Century.)

                                                              3
    1. Better indoor air quality increases productivity and decreases SBS symptoms
    2. Unnecessary indoor pollution sources should be avoided
    3. The air should be served cool and dry to the occupants
    4. “Personalized air”, i.e. a small amount of clean air, should be served gently, close to the breathing zone of
         each individual
    5. Individual control of the thermal environment should be provided”


These principles of excellence are compatible with energy efficiency and sustainability. (FASTS, Indoor Air Quality in
the 21st Century.)



                     Table 1: Canadian Guidelines for Common Indoor Contaminants



                            Contaminant                                  Maximum Exposure Limits (ppm)*¹

                           Carbon dioxide                                               3500 [ L ]

                          Carbon monoxide                                               11 [ 8 hr ]

                                                                                        25 [ 25hr ]

                            Formaldehyde                                                 0.1 [ L ]
                                                                                         0.05 [ L ] **

                                 Lead                                              Minimum exposure

                          Nitrogen dioxides                                                0.05

                                                                                       0.25 [ 1 hr ]

                                Ozone                                                     0.12 hr

                            Sulfur dioxide                                            0.38 [ 5 min ]

                                                                                           0.019

                               Benzene                                                      10

                               Toluene                                                      200

                          Trichloroethylene                                                 100

                            Naphthalene                                                     9.5

         * Numbers in brackets [ ] refers to either a ceiling or to averaging times of less than or greater than eight hours (min = minutes; hr =
         hours; L = long term. Where no time is specified, the average is eight hours.)

         ** Target level is 0.05 ppm because of its potential carcinogenic effect. Total aldehydes limited to 1 ppm.

         Source: (Hum, R., 2007)                                 4
Biowalls can address concerns with formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, benzene, toluene trichloroethylene and
naphthalene. These chemicals arise from activities that occur within the space, building materials and the occupants
themselves. If not controlled, the contaminants may accumulate to the point of influencing the well-being of
occupants (Darlington, 2004). For further analysis on the affects of Biowalls and biofiltration systems on indoor air
quality refer to the draft report “Indoor Air Biofilters as a means of Improving Indoor Air Quality: A Review of Existing
Literature” by Alan Darlington.

One way to limit and control the accumulation of VOCs within the building envelope is through the use of a
Biofiltration system.



          3.2 Biofiltration

Biofiltration is defined as the process of drawing air in through organic material (such as moss, soil, and plants)
resulting in the removal of organic gases, such as volatile organic compounds and other contaminants.
Microorganisms inherent within the biofilter absorb, minimize, separate, breakdown and transform dangerous
compounds so as to re-circulate clean air. Up to 80% of dangerous compounds in indoor environments can be
eliminated through the use of a biofilter. (Deshusses, 1996)

Figure 1. Relative Performance of Various Biofilter Support Media




Fig.1 Relative Performance of Various Biofilter Support Media (Deshusses, 1996)

                                                                    5
Although widely employed, the scientific community is still unsure of the physical phenomena underpinning
biofiltration, and information about the microorganisms involved continues to be developed. A biofilter system is a
fairly simple device to construct and operate and offers a cost-effective solution provided the pollutant is
biodegradable within a moderate time frame, at reasonable concentration, and that the airstream is at an organism-
viable temperature. For large volumes of air, a biofilter may be the only cost-effective solution.




This type of system is generally used in large masses in industrial air pollution control. However, Dr. Alan Darlington,
(a professor at the University of Guelph who completed his PhD in horticulture at the University of Guelph in the
Controlled Environmental Systems Research Facility) has researched and focused on the use of botanical biofilters
as means of maintaining air quality in the indoor environment. He is the President and CEO of Air Quality Solutions,
a company that builds and has a patent to the technology used to build these types of biofilters indoors. We are
calling these walls Biowalls.

          3.3 Biowall

The Biowall is a vertical garden with plant species embedded into a vertical substrate. The substrate varies from a
thin sheet to a thick, rigid block of felt or wool or coco fiber growing medium. These walls vary in size from a few
square meters, to multi-storey construction. The biowall acts as a natural air filtration system, due to large amounts of
plants growing on it. The biological system is maintained by a pump, which feeds nutrients and water to the top of the
wall and flows down the surface. As air moves through the wall, impurities are removed and clean air is distributed
throughout the building via the HVAC system (Hum, 2007).




Fig. 2 Schematic Diagram of a Biowall                   Fig. 3 Photo of a finished Biowall

                                                            6
There are Biowalls in buildings and institutions around the world improving the air quality for its occupants. These
walls can be found in university campuses, office buildings, restaurants and places of worship. Currently
approximately 20 biowalls exist in Canada, while many more institutions have been doing research and investigations
into the implementation of these walls (Hum, 2007).




The first biowall to be constructed in Canada was constructed in 1994. It was located at the Canada Life Center
Environmental Room in downtown Toronto, and contained more than 8,000 plants (of 250 different species). This
wall is no longer in operation due to the acquisition of the company by Great west Life in 2003; however the wall
served as a necessary stepping stone to prove that the biowall technology works (Hum, 2007) ), (Darlington, 2008).




Other biowall locations include the Robertson building in Toronto, the University of Waterloo‟s Student Life Center,
Queen‟s University Integrated Learning Center, and the atrium of the University of Guelph–Humber building (See
Appendix 1).




4.0 Plants



Today, plants are widely used in urban environments, both outdoor and indoor. Only recently, however, have
attempts been made to test the effect of plants on human well-being. As scientific studies bring forward convincing
evidence for beneficial effects of plants on human health and well-being, increased interest and priorities might be
obtained among decision makers, and the use of plants indoors could receive an additional dimension to the purely
ornamental. Studies were started in Norway some years ago to determine the extent that indoor greenery affects
health and well-being of people who spend most of their days working or studying indoors (Fjeld, 1998).




         4.1 Effects on Air Quality

Since the 1980‟s reports have been published indicating that indoor plants may have the ability to reduce the level of
chemical compounds in the air. Leaves, stems and roots work together with micro-organisms that live in the root
zone, creating an ecosystem that can function as an air filtration system. Bill Wolverton stated that studies done with
his research group showed that plants used as ordinary houseplants may reduce the level of different chemical
compounds in the air.

                                                          7
If the plants were exposed to high concentrations of chemicals in sealed growth chambers, the concentration was
reduced by the plants. The chemicals tested in this study included formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, carbon
mono-oxide and NOx. Approximately 20 different species of plants were included (Wolverton, 1989).

Studies conducted in Germany and Australia have confirmed the ability of plants and the ecosystem of plants and
micro-organisms to be powerful air purifiers, even if the concentration of chemicals is low (Schmitz 1995). This air-
purifying ecosystem will require fourteen days to adapt to the chemicals that occur in the air. As well, the system was
reported to be independent of light; which means that the photosynthetic activity of the plants is less important than
the activity of roots and the microorganisms; at least after the system has adapted to the environment (Schmitz
1995).




Studies indicate that the body is able to detect changes in the indoor air quality far below the guideline
concentrations. This means that even small changes in chemical impurities of the air may influence health and
discomfort symptoms. Studies also indicate that plants may increase the indoor air humidity by 3% -5% (Lohr 1992).
Plants with a high transpiration rates increase these levels the most. The humidifying effect of plants is important
since many indoor environments suffer from low air humidity (Fjeld, 2000).




Plants within a building may reduce the dust levels in the air as found by Lohr (1996). The dust content in the air is
often too high, and might irritate the eyes and respiratory organs (throat, nose). An increase in air humidity may bind
more of the dust, thereby reducing health complaints. The supposed changed micro-climate around the plant material
is more likely to affect people‟s perception of the physical air quality if the plants are placed close to where people will
be exposed to this micro-climate for some time during their day (Bergs, 2001).




         4.2 Psychological Effects




In terms of psychological aspects of our health and well-being, the modern lifestyle exposes people to new situations.
The study of how the environment and our surroundings affect us mentally is called environmental psychology.
Studies in this field clearly show that our well-being and levels of psychological and physiological stress are
significantly influenced by our surroundings. Our urban lifestyle means that we spend 80 – 90% of our time indoors,
which stresses the importance of the quality of the indoor environment, not only when it comes to the physical and
chemical constitution of the indoor air, but also regarding how the indoor settings may affect us psychologically
(Fjeld, 1998).

                                                             8
People have a great ability to adjust to the environment, to new demands and to new situations. On the other hand,
significant indications have been found that these adjustments have its limits. The increase in asthma, allergy,
diabetes and cardio-vascular illness indicates that the steadily increasing number of artificial elements in our
environment, the change in our diet, the reduced physical activity, and the increase in mental stressors are
exceeding the flexibility of our biological system. The need to incorporate natural elements to the indoor environment
is now imperative (Fjeld, 2002).




American research findings indicate that the recovery from induced stress was much faster and more complete when
students were exposed to natural settings, which were dominated by green vegetation. Greater recovery was
indicated by faster and larger reduction in blood pressure and muscle tension. It is likely that indoor vegetation may
change the environment in such a way that it corresponds better with our positive response patterns towards
elements of nature, and thus may influence the measurable stress levels in the body (Ulrich, 1992)



         4.3 “Biophilia”



In 1984, Harvard biologist Dr. Ed Wilson named this natural human desire, biophilia, “the love of nature”. It is said
that this feeling dates back millions of years, and occurs naturally to humans. This study is still in a very early stage,
but is inspiring researchers and designers with the interest in green buildings. Finding ways to incorporate these
concepts into the existing fabric of our already built environment is important as well. (Jen Seal, RMI).




The momentum of green building has opened more developers up to explore new ideas. With great emphasis on
energy savings, sustainability and the positive publicity, green building has become serious business. Though plants
are not included in the Canadian Green Building Council‟s (CaGBC) certificate standard called LEED, presently a
credit may be obtained in the category of “Innovation and Design Process” with the Biowall. As manufacturers of
building materials and products continue to convert to sustainable methods, green products are on the way to
become a standard. The study of biophilia might be an inroad to have plants obtain a more prominent spot in LEED
certification and on the developer‟s priority list.




                                                            9
          4.4 A list of plants for a Biowall:



         Aglaonmena
         Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
         Croton (Codiaeum)
         Cordyline
         Dragon Plant (Dracaena)
         Ficus (Verigated)
         Rubber Plant (Ficus Eleastica)

      *Information on all plants is listed in Appendix 2




         Ivy (Hedera)
         Palms (Dypsis, Howea, or Chamaedorea)
         Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum)
         Philodendron
         Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
         Purple Heart
         Umbrella Plant


      List source (Hum, 2007)




    5.0 HVAC Systems


Indoor air quality is closely related to ventilation. Assuming outdoor air is less contaminated than indoor air, fresh
outdoor air replaces indoor air through ventilation, thus removing and diluting contaminants generated indoors. Here
we will focus on the ventilation requirements that are used in North America (NRC: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines &
Standards).




Alan Darlington noted that Biowalls are designed to meet ASHRAE standards for maintaining a comfortable
environment within the building. Although a Biowall will help remove VOCs from the air and exchange the indoor air
for new clean air, the building code still requires that ventilation systems must exchange the indoor air 3 – 6 times an
hour. The Biowall has the capability of doing this; however the building code will not consider the exchanges by the
Biowall at this time.                                      10
There are two ways to operate the wall:




          1. Keep everything the same in terms of outside air introduction [10 liters per second per person (l/s/p)] and
         then run the Biowall as a supplement to the system. In this case because of the wall, air quality in the space
         is ventilated at 13 l/s/p (roughly) with little additional energy costs. This is where the benefit to air quality
         occurs.




          2. Keep the air quality the same. Reduce the amount of outside air that is brought into the building and use
         the Biowall as an alternative source of make-up air. This is where energy savings occur.




Since ASHRAE does not allow for this type of equivalency at this time, the only choice is to have the existing HVAC
system use option 1, and have the occupants benefit from the increased air quality. When and if ASHRAE
acknowledges the Biowall‟s air cleaning ability, then the school can modify air intake and then benefit in energy
savings.” (Darlington interview, 2008) At this point in time this very issue is being considered by ASHRAE.




         5.1 Passive & Active Systems




There are several ways of integrating air from a Biowall into the building area in order that full advantage can be
taken from the process of purifying the air. The three methods outlined here are a general overview of how these
systems work in conjunction with HVAC. As each and every building poses its own unique set of circumstances and
problems, further investigations into what is required would have to be undertaken by a mechanical engineer and/or
HVAC specialist along with the designer of the Biowall in order to make a proper assessment as to how a Biowall can
be integrated into the HVAC of our particular building.




1) Passive 1: The first method is to have an air filtration unit separate from the Biowall. Similar to a stand-alone bio-
air filtration unit used in homes, it is not part of the wall but would be placed in the area of the wall. This method re-
circulates the air only in the general vicinity of the wall by using fans. It also has a tendency to re filter the same air
over and over as it draws air in from the surrounding area and blows it back out again creating a circular flow of the
same air always being filtered. This method is not a practical one and does little to clean the air because dirty air
needs to pass through the Biowall and root systems of the plants in order for VOCs to be absorbed by the plants.
(Darlington, 2008)                                        11
2) Passive 2: The second method is to draw air through the Biowall. In this manner the air is properly cleaned and
VOC content reduced. Air is drawn through the wall by having a negative pressure system on the back side of the
wall. The clean air is then directed through ducts that terminate at the top of the wall into a header where by
convection forces it mixes with the surrounding air. It is then picked up by the indoor return air diffuser ducts of the
HVAC system in the building and redistributed throughout the building by the supply air diffuser. (Darlington, 2008)




3) Active: The third type of system is directly linked into the HVAC system of the building. Once the air passes
through the wall and is cleaned it is drawn into ducts that lead directly into the HVAC system where it is filtered and
redistributed throughout the building envelope. This method requires added construction and designing due to the
fact that HVAC ducts have to tie into a header at the top of the Biowall. Requirements for sizing would have to be
determined with a mechanical engineer. (Darlington, 2008)




Recommendation: It is recommended to use the second method where the purified air is picked up by convection
and drawn into the HVAC system of the building. The Biowall and the HVAC would be independent of each other.
This method should prove to be more economical and may reduce any complications that may arise by tying the two
systems together.




5.2 Energy Savings




In theory, the use of a Biowall as a method of cleaning indoor air for re-use in conjunction with a standard HVAC
system within the building can potentially lead to energy savings. The HVAC system requires energy to condition the
air that is brought from the outdoors to a comfortable temperature and humidity levels of around 22ºC and 50%. The
Biowall will have significant effects on the amount of energy used by the HVAC system in the sense that re-
circulating the air through the Biowall will omit the process of heating or cooling outdoor air because the indoor air will
already be at the desired temperature and humidity level. Dr. Darlington‟s study indicates that 25 liters of new outside
air is cleaned with each exchange (Darlington, A., 2001). The energy savings and therefore cost savings would be
large to not have to heat or cool outside air. In practice, at this point in time as mentioned, ASHRAE does not yet
recognize the Biowall as an air cleaning system, so this savings can not yet be taken advantage of.




                                                            12
6.0 Benefits of a biowall



         6.1 Green Recognition




It would be significant to be recognized as a sustainable school, and a leader in the industry with an effective plan for
a “green” design. George Brown College will not be the first school to introduce a Biowall on their campus. Studying
existing Biowalls gives us the opportunity to use existing walls as case studies to better understand the limited
information available for this new technology, and to possibly integrate the best suited Biowall for our setting. The
eventual implementation of a Biowall in a prominent yet appropriate location such as our atrium could gain our
college some recognition in sustainability.




         6.2 Benefits for the Occupants




The non-energy consumption facts of a biowall are likely to be manifested on the occupants themselves (Darlington).
The impact on the building occupant of installing a biowall could be two-fold; first, the system can remove indoor
contaminants known to affect occupant health which could take the form of improved well-being. Second; the wall
offers a pleasing aesthetic to the environment. The system greens the indoor space, and there are increasingly
strong links between greening the indoor space and the well-being of the occupants. (Darlington, 2001)

Sick building syndrome alone has been quoted as costing the American economy between $15 and $40 billion
dollars per year. The Biowall will reduce indoor VOCs and other compounds that are linked to poor air quality and
sick building syndrome (Darlington, A., 2004).




Professor Lohr at Washington State University demonstrated that the inclusion of plants in computer classrooms
reduced the stress levels and led to a 12% increase in the productivity of the students (Lohr, 1996)




Professor Fjeld demonstrated that the inclusion of green plants in a Radiology Unit in Oslo, Norway led to a
measurable improvement in the work environment which manifested itself as a 5% to 15% reduction in absenteeism.
In another two year study at an Oslo office building, Professor Fjeld found a 205 person reduction in fatigue levels
and a 30% reduction in occurrence of headaches after the greening of the indoor space (www.plants4people.com).

                                                           13
         6.3 Benefits for the Building




Living walls make excellent use of vertical space within cities, providing micro-habitat, aesthetic benefits and air
cleansing where none would have typically existed before. The high ratio of wall to roof area in urban spaces means
there is greater potential to generate positive environmental changes via green walls versus green roofs.




Living walls add thermal mass to a building. They also provide shade and an insulating dead air space on the surface
of the building wall. Vegetation also lowers adjacent air temperatures by evaporating large amounts of water from
leaf surfaces. All of these processes help moderate indoor and outdoor building temperatures. One Canadian study
found the reduction of summer cooling load by living walls was even more dramatic than for green roofs. The same
study showed that significant reductions in the urban heat island effect could be attained if the living wall technology
was used extensively (NRC: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines & Standards).




At George Brown College, the Atrium space being considered has a unique situation. It is an unadorned, unfinished
3-storey concrete hole. This space looks like a mistake in the design. Yet, it is a focal point as the students and
guests enter this building. Introducing a Biowall here would change this mistake into a beautiful, healthful and
purposeful living wall.




7.0 Concerns

         7.1 Mould / Moisture Problems:




Proper air flow and water movement must be established to help ensure harmful moulds do not grow, particularly in
indoor applications. Constant presence of moisture means the Biowalls must be well separated from the adjacent
structure.

Dr. Lohr conducted a study demonstrating that plant transpiration in an office environment creates a humidity level
exactly matching the recommended human comfort range from 30%- 60%. Similarly, the same study concludes that
in an absence of plants, the relative humidity in offices runs below this recommended range. When the relative
humidity level of office air is too low, costly materials such as wood can become damaged and cracked.

                                                          14
When the relative humidity levels are too high, the condensation of windows and exterior walls can result in costly
structural damage (Lohr, 1992).




In the Biowall proposed, proper air flow and water movement are an integral part of the system, negating the
potential for these problems. None of the Biowalls visited had mould or moisture problems.




         7.2 Insects




Insects are a concern to be addressed. Their presence and potential to spread bacteria and diseases that they may
be carrying must be looked at (Hum, 2007). Plants naturally produce pollens and nectars as part of their normal
growth development. In the outdoors, their production is essential for attracting insects which serve the role of
distributing the plant‟s pollen grains. For indoor plants, the benefits they can offer are often not needed and their
presence becomes a nuisance. The insect population can easily be controlled by biological means using nematodes
to control fungus gnats. Maintenance on the wall will limit the chances of any problems occurring.




Alan Darlington and Jeff Mallany both noted that no pesticides were needed for the Canada Life Biowall and that
natural predators are relied on to control pests. At times mild soaps are occasionally used to control outbreaks.
(Darlington, A., 2004). Darlington also stated that most insects actually remain close to the wall where their food can
be found) .




The atrium being considered at George Brown College for our Biowall is made of concrete. In particular in our case
the Biowall would be far from any nutrients that insects would need for survival.




         7.3 Allergies




Those who may suffer from pollen allergies should not be concerned with the plants associated with the biowall.
During the flowering season, severe irritation to the eyes and throat are not uncommon. However, the plants chosen
to go on such a wall will not include any plants which emit such pollens and will consist only of non-pollinating plants
(Darlington, A., 2004).                                15
         7.4 Maintenance:




Air Quality Solutions takes on a one year maintenance contract with the installation of their Biowalls. This consists of
monthly grooming of the plants. Replacing plants or replanting is monitored under this contract as well. Once or twice
a year the area is power washed by the maintenance provider. This maintenance contract can be extended for a
monthly fee (Darlington, 2008).




Some sources note that, at least for indoor projects, monthly maintenance programs would be similar to other indoor
garden requirements (Darlington, A., 2004).




8.0 Research Possibilities



One idea to consider is dividing the wall into 3 different sections. After speaking with Darlington, he agreed that this
can be done by making 3 separate structures independent of each other. Each wall would have its own water pump
allocated to that wall. Different plants can be planted on each wall and different research could be carried out on the
separate walls depending on what research is to be conducted. If the wall was not divided, one wall could be
installed with 2 water pumps in the event that the first one fails.




Another possibility was to have an applied research project, „To clean rain water after it is used for the Biowall‟.




9.0 Structure / Construction



A structural engineer will need to be hired to conduct an investigation into whether the proposed location is stable
enough to handle the applied load from the Biowall structure. A cursory assessment showed that the Biowall would
be bearing on an existing footing with little existing load. Therefore no structural problems are foreseen. Construction
drawings of the existing E building will need to be looked at for the engineer to do this investigation. As well, an
HVAC engineer will need to help calibrate the current mechanical system installed in the school with the Biowall.

                                                             16
All the material used for the construction of the Biowall fall under the “green” category. There are no health issues for
George Brown students to be concerned with during or after construction. The method of construction is rather
simple with minimal impact on the surroundings and no impact on the occupants of the building. Construction of
such a wall consists of hanging a diffuser infrastructure via a header, with a bolted connection into the wall
(Darlington, 2008).




Research into any construction concerns were closely taken into consideration. Mild odours may occur during the
waterproofing phase, and noise from HVAC installation if necessary could cause construction distractions. The
timeline for the construction of the wall is approximately 3 weeks to complete. This timeline is in regard to the
construction of the wall itself with no timeline for HVAC installation or architectural features (Darlington, 2008).




There is an area above the proposed location of the Biowall which currently is covered with drywall on the interior
side. This drywall might have to be replaced with a moisture resistant replacement such as concrete board to avoid
future mould problems. As well, condensation can be avoided on any windows within the parameters of the wall with
a device installed by Air Quality Solutions (Darlington, 2008).




         9.1 Cost of the Biowall




Prices estimated for the construction of the wall are broken into two categories: Small walls (less than 20 feet in
height) and large walls (more than 20 feet in height). The wall to be located in the Atrium falls under a large wall. The
price quoted for a wall this size is $1700.00 per sq. meter. The size of the wall is 20x7 meters; equaling $240,000.00.
The price given is to cover the construction of the wall only, and does not include HVAC adjustments or architectural
features around the wall. An additional 10% of construction costs are also added for the design process which
includes working drawings from the Biowall designer (Darlington, 2008).




A spare pump would be set aside in case one pump was to fail. The question is not “if” the pumps fail but “when” the
pump fails. Pumps have a limited lifespan i.e. 5 years or less and are guaranteed to break down eventually. For this
reason it is necessary to always have a back up pump. Having three walls would increase the cost per wall, but not
significantly as pumps are approximately of $200. With the additional costs of HVAC, structural and architectural
integration plus contingency, a total cost of $400,000.00 could be estimated.

                                                            17
10.0 Funding



Research on funding was done with the intent of providing a list of possible agencies and companies where funding
can be sought. This is in no sense a complete list. It is merely a beginning point which the school can use to solicit
companies and agencies. Many of the granting agencies were found from a list compiled by the University of
Toronto. Typical granting agencies are government agencies and health organizations. Other sources of funding can
be sought through industry links that the school has already established through the various Industry Liaison offices
within the college. Funding opportunities can be approached by using the initial biowall proposal and the feasibility
research paper as a tool to present to potential funding agencies.




Finding a patron to fund this project would be another approach to investigate.




Health and government sector




Research has shown that plants and gardens can have a beneficial effect on both the physical and psychological
environment for people. For these reasons we have included many health organizations and government agencies
in the list of possible granting sources. These organizations are known for funding projects and research that help
improve quality of life.




Landscape and construction Industry




George Brown College has a number of sponsors within the construction industry. These sponsors may be willing to
contribute by donating funds, materials, information or labour.




Nurseries and garden centers can be approached to either help fund the wall or contribute plants to the biowall. In
turn, they may have access to do ongoing research on the wall.

                                                          18
George Brown College




Approximately 14,000 students and faculty attend George Brown College. This is a significant number of people.
Fundraising activities within the school could generate a small percentage of capital required. For example: students
could purchase plants to go on the biowall. This type of fundraising could also be ongoing as plants are required to
be replaced over the lifespan of the biowall.




11.0 Recommendations and Conclusion



After studying the feasibility of a Biowall to be located in the atrium of E building there are certain concerns and
issues that must be addressed before construction could begin, or any contracts to build a Biowall can take place. A
structural engineer will need to be hired to confirm or design the structure at its proposed location though no
structural problems are foreseen. As well, an HVAC engineer will need to help calibrate the current mechanical
system installed in the school with the Biowall. Another issue needed to be looked at will be determining the
architectural features if any or architectural finishes to the surrounding area in particular the replacing of the drywall
above the location of the wall with concrete board.




Aside from construction and monetary considerations, the potential to add healthful and possibly energy saving
greenery into our college environment to help stimulate and inspire the college community appears to be a promising
project. In conclusion, the Biowall would be academically an exciting, healthy, aesthetically pleasing and
environmentally friendly asset to our college and we hope it will be introduced.




                                                           19
12.0 References



Journal Articles and Professional Documents




Abu-Shalback, L. 2000. The Impact of IAQ.




Bergs, J. 2002. The Effect of Healthy Workplaces on the Well-being and Productivity of Office Workers. Proceedings

         of Plants for People International Symposium Floriade.




Berube, K.A., Sexton, K.J., Jones, T.P., Moreno, T., Anderson, S., and Richards, R.J., 2004. The Spatial and

         Temporal Variations in PM10 Mass From Six UK Homes. Science of the Total Environmnet.




Charles, K., Magee, R.J., Won, D., Lusztyk, E., 2005. NRC: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines and Standards.




Darlington, A.B., 2007. Indoor Air Biofilters as a Means of Improving Indoor Air Quality.




Darlington, A.B., 2004. An Integrated Indoor Air Biofiltration System for Municipal Infrastructure.




Darlington, Alan and Dixon, Michael. 2001. The Biofiltration of Indoor Air III. Air Flux and Temperature and Removal

         of VOC’s. Air Quality Solutions Ltd., Naturaire Systems.




Darlington, Alan, Dixon, Michael, and Mallany, Jeff. 2001. The Biofiltration of Indoor Air II. Microbial Loading of Indoor

         Space. Air Quality Solutions Ltd., Naturaire Systems.

                                                           20
Deshusses, M.A., Hamer, G., and Dunn, I.J., 1996. Transient-State Behaviour of a Biofilter Removing Mixtures of

         Vapours of MEK and MIBK From Air. Biotechnology and Bioengineering.




FASTS, 2002. Indoor Air Quality in the 21st Century.




Fjeld, T. and Bonnevie, C. 2002. The Effects of Plants and Artificial Day-Light on the Well Being and Health of Office

         Workers, School Children and Health Care Professional. Plants for People.




Fjeld, T. Veiersted, B. and Sandvik, L. 1998. The Effect of Indoor Foliage Plants on Health and Discomfort Symptoms

         Among Office Workers. Indoor and Building Environment.




Hum, R., and Lai, P., 2007. An Overview of Plant–and-Microbial-based Indoor Air Purification System.

Hodgson, M.J., Oleson, B., and Fountain, M. 1997. Environment Acceptability in an Environmental Field Study.

         Healthy Building/IAQ.




Lohr, V.I., and Bummer, L.H., 1992. Assessing and Influencing Attitudes Toward Water-conserving Landscapes.

         HortTechnology




Lohr, V.I., 1996. Particulate Matter Accumulation on Horizontal Surfaces in Interiors: Influences of Foliage Plants.

         Atmospheric Environments.




Lohr, V.I., Pearson-Mims, C.H., and Goodwin. (1996). Interior Plants May Improve Worker Productivity and Reduce

         Stress in a Windowless Environment. Plants for People

                                                           21
Schmitz, H., 1995. Decontamination Mechanisms Vegetal Bacteria from Formaldehyde and Nicotine. Reducing

         Health Complaints & Planning it for People.




Wolverton, B.C., and Wolverton, J.D., 1993. Plants and Soil Microorganisms: Removal of Formaldehyde, Xylene and

         Ammonia from the Indoor Environment.




Web Sources




Seal, J., 2005. Planterra.

         http://www.planterra.com/research/article_biophilia.php




Straube, J.F and Acahrya. 2001 Oikos: Green Building Course.

         http://oikos.com/library/breathingwalls/




U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2006. The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality

         http://www.epa.gov/iag/pubs/insidest.html




Interview Sources




Darlington, A. March 20, 2008




                                                         22
                                                    Appendix 1


                                                 Local Biowalls




Robertson Building Biowall – Toronto, Ontario        Canada Life Center Biowall – Toronto, Ontario




Queen‟s University Biowall – Kingston, Ontario       Humber-Guelph Biowall – Etobicoke, Ontario

                                                        23
                                                                Appendix 2


                                             Possible Funding Agencies


Canadian Cancer Society



Canada Foundation for Innovation

http://www.innovation.ca/

CFI OVERVIEW

Mission                                                               and                                                             Mandate:
The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research
infrastructure. The CFI's mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and non-profit research
institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians. Since its creation in 1997, the CFI has
committed $3.8 billion in support of 5,585 projects at 128 research institutions in 64 municipalities across Canada.




Canada‟s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies



Canadian Institutes of Health Research

http://www.cihr.ca/



Canadian Lung Association

http://www.lung.ca/



Cancer Research Society Inc. (Canada)

http://www.cancer-research-society.ca/



City of Toronto, Public Health

http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/health/index.htm



Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)
E-mail: info@cec.org

                                                                      24
Evergreen Foundation

http://www.evergreen-foundation.com/



Health Canada

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/



Health Effects Institute

http://www.healtheffects.org/



Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

http://www.heartandstroke.ca/



Humber Nurseries

http://www.humbernurseries.com/default.asp



International Life Sciences Institute Research Foundation

http://www.ilsi.org/



International Union Against Cancer

http://www.uicc.ch/



Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association

http://www.landscapeontario.com/?s=1&w=6&c=4



Mori Nurseries

http://www.morinurseries.net/mori/interface/index.html#Home



National Research Council (NRC)

                                                            25
Networks of Centers of Excellence

http://www.nce.gc.ca/



Ontario Mental Health Foundation (OMHF)

http://www.omhf.on.ca/



Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs

http://www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/



Sheridan Nurseries

http://www.sheridannurseries.com/



Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

http://www.sshrc.ca/



World Health Organization (WHO)

http://www.who.ch/




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