CCBC program adds indoor “green” wall
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:59

Interior plant wall combats indoor pollutants

by Ben Boehl

    After starting in the fall, the new Sustainable Horticulture program at CCBC Dundalk has already made a contribution to the campus.
    Two weeks ago, a new “green” wall was placed in the G building at the college as part of the Sustainable Horticulture program.    
    Program director Bradley Thompson told The Eagle that the modern world has caught on to the idea of “green” rooftops and increased outdoor vegetation walls, but is proud that his students have helped create the less-common indoor vegetation structure.
    “Interior air pollution is a problem in buildings, so we decided to have vegetation inside the building,” Thompson said.

    While the concept of interior vegetation might seem unique, Thompson added that many museums and other buildings in Europe have interior “green” walls.
    Thompson pointed to Frenchman Patrick Blanc as one of the innovators of interior greening; his work can be found all over the world.
    “It’s not a new process. The new part is trying to install something with less maintenance,” Thompson said, explaining that interior vegetation is often hard to maintain, with watering and grooming that can be costly and messy.
    New technology has made large-scale indoor vegetation more practical.
    Thompson noted that CCBC’s “green” wall does not require watering because the lower layer of the wall has a water reservoir that runs every 20 minutes. The water needs to be checked once a week. Additionally, a heat lamp runs 10 hours a day.
    “We have natural sunlight in here, but some of the vegetation [fades away] from the sun,” Thompson said.
    According to studies noted by Thompson, businesses that have interior vegetation have employees who tend to take fewer sick days because the plants help maintain healthy air.
    “Indoor pollution is worst than outdoor pollution, with paint break downs and solvents,” Thompson said.
    The next step for the Sustainable Horticulture program is the “green” roof project that will begin on April 13.
    The vegetation will be grown inside the campus’ greenhouse and the preparation for the roof will take place on an outside platform that is waist-high and not on an actual rooftop.
    “We didn’t want it on the roof — so people can see what we are doing. We want this to be a teaching and a learning tool,” Thompson said.
    The program has grown from 50 to 75 students since the fall semester. Thompson would love to expand the program to where Sustainable Horticulture would be found on all three CCBC campuses.
    Right now the program receives a grant from the USDA, but Thompson would like more funding.
    “I’m hoping to generate enough interest that the program will grow and more funding will be provided,” he said.