In 2020, South Manchester Commercial Horticulturalist company, I Want Plants launched their unique modular living wall system, HYVERT.  Joseph Rouse, I Want Plants Head of Research & Development, tells us more about what the local company has been working on to increase green infrastructure in the city region…

We’re a second-generation family business with almost fifty years of horticultural expertise in plant development and root structure.  We know what plants need to thrive, so designing and perfecting our own modular living wall system (HYVERT), was a very natural progression.

HYVERT Living Wall System

Invented by our Managing Director, Richard Rowlands, HYVERT is now UK design protected and patent pending.  We are the only modular living wall manufacturer to have taken a scientific route to understanding the environmental and ecological benefits that living green infrastructure can deliver.

We successfully achieved this via our (ongoing) Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) which first commenced in 2021.

Talking about the KTP at the time, David Megson, Associate Director of the Ecology and Environment Research Centre at MMU, said: “This study is of significant importance, presenting the opportunity for us to improve the quality of our environments and pave the way for more sustainable, carbon neutral cities. “In addition to carbon capture we are also really interested to see what additional benefits this green infrastructure can have on local air quality and biodiversity.”

Scientific Research

The objective of our original KTP was to accelerate our scientific research into the environmental and sustainable benefits of HYVERT to quantify exactly how much CO2 and NO2 gases it’s able to remove from the atmosphere and determine how effective the structures are at improving urban environments and diminishing the urban heat island effect. 

HYVERT was also assessed for improved energy efficiency, increasing biodiversity, acoustic dampening and improved psychological wellbeing.

We already knew that Green Infrastructure could add real environmental benefits within dense urban locations, but more tangible data was needed to corroborate these claims.

By analysing HYVERT in controlled, laboratory conditions in the university, under real world conditions like our “living lab” site overlooking the Mancunian Way or our temporary HYVERT installed at The Warehouse Project to study noise abatement,  these research sites have all enabled us to accrue accurate measurability and collection of data in a quantitative, repeatable and traceable way.

HyVert Living Lab at Manchester Metropolitan University, All Saints Building

Living wall application in Trafford

Since HYVERT’s launch in 2020, we have worked on projects across the UK within a variety of business sectors including Workspace, Hospitality and the Care sector.  The implementation of green infrastructure such as HYVERT frequently forms part of more in-depth environmental and increased sustainability project ambition.

This was certainly the case for the Foundation building in Altrincham; a joint venture development between Trafford Council and Bruntwood. This regeneration project is a perfect example of how to address sustainability, economic transformation and social inclusion utilising previously vacant properties in key town centre locations.

Foundation Building, Altrincham

Benefits of a living wall

By redeveloping an existing building and including a HYVERT living wall, the client has saved substantial amounts of embodied carbon through reinventing an existing asset rather than demolishing it and constructing a new building in its place. The HYVERT wall has the added benefit of sequestration – capturing and storing CO2 over the next 20 years.

The living wall has already made a huge impact in the town visually.  36,000 carefully selected plants grown less than two miles away from Foundation, provide a welcoming and vibrant green gateway for Altrincham in an urban environment.

The living wall absorbs over 450 kg of carbon per year, supports 125 invertebrate species, serving as a habitat and food source for various urban wildlife, including bats and birds and dampens up to 9.3db of sound on average, helping the occupants inside experience a quieter space and also benefits passers by as the plants help dampen the sound that would have previously reflected off the brick wall. 

The environmental monitoring used for the HYVERT has benefited Trafford Council by providing much needed local air quality data, but also the developer Bruntwood so they can optimise construction related pollution across their portfolio. The environmental monitoring has been set up to continuously record data over the upcoming years, meaning even better results for the residents and visitors of Altrincham. 

Aisling McNulty, Development, Building and Construction Director at Bruntwood said:  “Foundation’s HYVERT green wall stands tall as a beacon of environmental innovation in Altrincham. Beyond its visually striking presence, it serves as a vibrant gateway for Altrincham, championing sustainability and public health for both our customers and the wider community.

Its impact reverberates far beyond aesthetics, embodying Bruntwood and Trafford Council’s commitment to creating thriving and sustainable places.” 

Richard Rowlands, Managing Director, I Want Plants

Want to find out more about Greater Manchester’s work to understand and embrace nature-based solutions to the climate emergency? Visit our IGNITION project page.

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