Most people’s reaction when seeing a dot-pot living wall is ‘wow this is a green building!’ but other than simply looking green it can be used to earn additional LEED® credits. LEED®, which stands for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system. Categories cover issues of sustainability, energy savings, air quality, health & wellness, and acoustics, among others.

A dot-pot living wall qualifies directly for two LEED® credits and helps gain an additional thirty points. The following chart lists potential credits that can be earned by the installation of a green wall either on the interior or exterior of a building.

LEED® Category

Credits and associated point(s) that a green wall helps to earn

Sustainable Sites

Credit 3: Integrated Pest Management, Erosion Control and Landscape Management Plan (1 point)

~

Credit 5: Site Development: Protect or Restore Open Habitat (1 point)

+

Credit 6: Stormwater Quantity Control (1 point)

?

Credit 7.1: Heat Island Reduction: Non-Roof (1 point)

?

Credit 8: Light Pollution Reduction (1 point)

~

Water Efficiency

Credit 3: Water Efficient Landscaping (1-5 points)

+

Energy & Atmosphere

Credit 1: Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance (1-18 points)

+

Materials & Resources

Credit 3: Sustainable Purchasing: Facility Alterations and Additions (1 point)

~

Indoor Environmental Quality

Credit 1.4: IAQ Best Management Practices: Reduce Particulates in Air Distribution (1 point)

+

Credit 2.1: Occupant Comfort: Occupant Survey (1 point)

+

Credit 3.6: Green Cleaning: Indoor Integrated Pest Management (1 point)

~

Innovation in Operations

Credit 1: Innovation in Operations (1-4 points)

+

Key:
? Qualifies for LEED® credit
+ Positively effects LEED® qualification
~  No negative effect on LEED® credit

The following list, which is broken down into LEED® categories and credits, goes into detail about how installing a green wall can benefit your application. Or click on the LEED® categories in the chart above to be taken to that section.

Key areas of human and environmental health, LEED® classification and green walls

Key areas of human and environmental health

Sustainable Sites (SS):

Credit 3: Integrated Pest Management, Erosion Control, and Landscape Management Plan (1 point)

  • Outdoor Pest Management: pest populations can be monitored as part of your maintenance package. dot-pot living walls are so diverse that pests rarely become a problem but if needed only 100% organic methods of control are applied.
  • Landscape Waste Diversion: when pruning, all of the clippings are mulched, composted and diverted from entering the waste stream.
  • Reduction of Chemical Fertilizer: an OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) certified organic fertilizer is used and only in minute amounts.

Credit 5: Site Development: Protect or Restore Open Habitat (1 point)

  • The natural site that is damaged by a building can be restored with a green wall which is an area that provides habitat and promotes biodiversity.
  • Only native and locally adapted plants are used and placed vertically thus increasing the percentage of the total site area covered by vegetation.
  • An exterior green wall positively impacts this LEED® credit.

Credit 6: Stormwater Quantity Control (1 point)

  • Rainwater can be collected and used to irrigate a green wall. In doing so it increases on-site infiltration and evapotranspiration.
  • The roots of plants (and microorganisms that live around them) breakdown and utilize pollution and contaminants within the water which leads to a reduction or total elimination before it is released back into the surrounding environment.
  • A living wall incorporated as part of a stormwater management plan can qualify your building for this LEED® credit.

Credit 7.1: Heat Island Reduction: Non-Roof (1 point)

  • Plants naturally cool their surroundings and absorb solar radiation; by covering a bare wall with vegetation the heat island effect is mitigated. Studies have shown that a green wall can be up to 10°C cooler than an exposed surface.
  • The panels used totally shade the building envelope and because of the way they are attached to the frame, air is free to circulate behind them.
  • A green wall qualifies for this credit as it fits into the category of ‘exterior structure supporting vegetation’.

Credit 8: Light Pollution Reduction (1 point)

  • If an artificial light source is required, it is programmed using an automatic timer ensuring that it is off during all after-hours periods.

Go back to the LEED® categories chart.

Water Efficiency (WE):

Credit 3: Water Efficient Landscaping (1-5 points)

  • Captured rainwater can be used to irrigate a green wall thus reducing or completely cutting out potable water use or other natural surface or subsurface resource consumption.
  • Special water-efficient, climate-tolerant native or adapted plant species are selected.
  • Moisture sensors or weather data-based controllers can be installed which automatically shut off the irrigation system when not required.
  • A green wall positively impacts this LEED® credit.

Go back to the LEED® categories chart.

Energy & Atmosphere (EA):

Credit 1: Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance (1 – 18 points)

Average savings of a green building, LEED® classification and green walls

Average savings of a green building

  • An interior or exterior green wall can help a building achieve an increased level of operating energy efficiency performance through the following two ways:
    • Having a large number of plants can reduce indoor air temperatures by up to 7°C. Electricity savings of up to 20% can be obtained through reductions of air conditioning requirements.
    • The Green over Grey™ system has a layer of air between it and the wall; this acts as additional insulation thus reducing heating and cooling requirements of a building.
    • An interior or exterior living wall positively impacts this LEED® credit.

Go back to the LEED® categories chart. 

Materials & Resources (MR):

Credit 3: Sustainable Purchasing: Facility Alterations and Additions (1 point)

  • The plants and materials are sourced locally.
  • The fabric used is made up of recycled fibres.
  • Recycled metals or sustainable wood products can be used for framing.

Go back to the LEED® categories chart.

Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ):

Credit 1.4: IAQ Best Management Practices: Reduce Particulates in Air Distribution (1 point)

  • Plants can be thought of as natural, non-mechanical air filtration media.
  • A Green over Grey™ living wall incorporates hundreds of plants, many of which have been proven by NASA scientists to substantially reduce particulates.
  • Certain tropical plants have demonstrated that they capture and remove airborne toxins such as formaldehyde, particulate matter, VOCs, trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene, xylene, plus countless others. This leads to significant air quality improvements during the recirculation of indoor air within a building.
  • An indoor green wall has a positive effect on this LEED® credit.

Credit 2.1: Occupant Comfort: Occupant Survey (1 point)

  • A green wall can improve a buildings score on an occupant survey in the following ways:
    • Thermal comfort; natural cooling of plants and insulation provided by the Green over Grey™ living wall system.
    • Acoustics; the leaves of plants attenuate sound by reflecting, refracting and absorbing acoustic energy which leads to fewer echoes.
    • Indoor air quality; plants have been proven to filter and substantially remove airborne particulates and toxins.
    • Other comfort issues; having greenery in and around buildings has shown to alleviate stress and increase overall wellness of its occupants.

Credit 3.6: Green Cleaning: Indoor Integrated Pest Management (1 point)

  • Routine inspection and monitoring for pests can be part of your ongoing maintenance package.
  • If required, only organic methods of control are used and then just for targeted species.

Go back to the LEED® categories chart.

Innovation in Operations (IO):

Credit 1: Innovation in Operations (1-4 points)

  • Installing a green wall does not only help in gaining LEED® points but does it in an innovative way. This is accomplished by simply incorporating the technology that nature has provided instead of relying on man made solutions, which usually require much more energy.
  • A green wall is unique in that it meets a broad range of LEED® credits and does so with a single system.

Go back to the LEED® categories chart.

For more information about LEED®, an invaluable resource is Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).