‘Green walls’ can reduce high indoor temperature in African families

vertical gardeResearchers at Cardiff University have developed vertical greening systems to tackle high indoor temperatures for a number of families in Nigeria

Commonly known as green walls, the system has the potential to bring both 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 in recent years and are used in many residential and commercial buildings around the world for their ability to reduce temperatures, provide crops for food and economic gain and increase biodiversity.

In their study, the team adopted an approach by jointly developing appropriate green wall technology with the community of Agege, a large shanty town in Lagos, Nigeria. Materials were locally sourced and the community was strongly involved in designing, building and maintaining the prototypes. Two different green walls were installed outside two residential houses in Lagos.

Internal air temperatures, relative humidity and wall surface temperatures were recorded for each of the rooms adjacent 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 per cent of the time, against 23-45 per cent in the control room.

The co-authors of the study, Dr Clarice Bleil de Souza, Dr Julie Gwilliam and Dr Oluwafeyikemi Akinwolemiwa, stated, “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.”

Luigi De Luca, co-author of the study from the Cardiff Business School, further added, “There are many more improvements and issues to consider in order to make this a viable and more affordable for families in Africa, but the development of this product roadmap will hopefully propel efforts to make this system a reality and provide a lasting change for families across the continent.”

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