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Horticulture company creates unique green-wall system
Jill Odom | November 4, 2016
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The Culinary/Allied Health Building at Kalamazoo Valley Community College now features a three-story green wall.
Photo: LiveWall

It seems only fitting that Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan would add a green wall to its Culinary/Allied Health Building on the school’s Bronson Healthy Living Campus.

The living wall is 30 feet high by 10 feet 8 inches wide. Comprising 324 square feet, this vertical garden was constructed with the LiveWall system, which is a subsidiary of wholesale nursery Hortech Inc.

“The scope of the green wall, extending the full three-story height of the building, and its prominent position at the main entrance to the building, serve to remind our students they are preparing for careers focused on protecting and improving the health and well-being of our citizens and the sustainability of our communities,” said Mike Collins, executive vice president of enrollment and campus operations at KVCC.

LiveWall is a blend of architectural design, engineering and horticulture. Through years of research, horticulturalist Dave MacKenzie found that most vertical gardens stressed plants by growing them sideways and irrigating them with a trickle down system.

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LiveWall is a patented living wall system that is designed to help plants thrive.
Photo: LiveWall

LiveWall, meanwhile, uses aluminum VertiRails that are installed on the building wall. Then, horizontal RainRails are used to irrigate each row of planters with spray nozzles. WallTer inserts are used to hold the plant containers, giving the client the option of switching out seasonal annuals.

D & D Building Inc. installed the LiveWall structure in September 2015, then Hortech grew 500 plants over the winter so the plants would be hardy and mature before installation.

Keeping the east-northeast orientation and exposure of the wall in mind, LiveWall selected a mix of six plants that could overwinter well, including Blue Wonder catmint, purple bergenia, two varieties of geraniums and two types of coral bells.

“The green wall plant selection and placement produce a vertical landscape that is more naturalistic than formal,” Collins said. “That is in keeping with the design goals for the campus and complements other sustainable landscape features on the campus.”

Aside from just being visibly appealing, the green wall installation will help keep the Culinary/Allied Health Building cool during warm summer months by releasing water vapor to cool the air.

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