Green architecture – PNC Financial’s headquarters green wall
The vertical counterparts of green roofs – green walls are becoming more popular. Besides the calming effect of the greenery in our urban world the walls can be arranged to be visually engaging as well. Walls covered in vegetation provide the benefits of natural insulation and removal of air pollutants. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pennsylvania recently installed a green wall the size of two tennis courts on one side of its headquarters.
PNC has successfully installed the 220 square meters living wall with 602 modular panels. Each 0.6m x 0.6m panel has roughly 24 plants, so there are almost 15 thousand ferns, sedums, brass buttons and other plants that create a swirling pattern of varying hues of green above the company’s logo. The patterns covering the green wall of this 30-story building will change in different seasons since some of the plants are green during the winter and some will bloom in the spring.
The green wall is anchored directly into the building’s reinforced concrete masonry frame after part of the granite facade was removed. It was reinforced with a stainless steel bracketing system and panels made with recycled aluminum. There’s an internally controlled irrigation system that requires just 15 minutes of watering once per week (or in colder months only 15 minutes per month), and when it’s fully saturated, it will weigh about 24 tons.
“We think it’s the right thing to do for our community, for our customers and our shareholders,” said Gary Saulson, head of corporate real estate for PNC. “We wanted to add greenery to an area that didn’t have any. … We really view the green wall as public art.”
The wall is a product of Green Living Technologies of Rochester, New York, and designed by Kari Katzander of Mingo Design of New York. Cenkner Engineering Associates of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, and BD&E Strategic Branding and Design of Pittsburgh provided engineering and additional design.
George Irwin, executive of Green Living Technologies, said that the company also installed walls in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. Their research estimated it will be 25 percent cooler behind the wall compared to the ambient summer temperatures. They also claim that each of the 602 panels at the PNC headquarters can offset the carbon output of one person per day.
Irwin said green walls aren’t exactly a new idea: The Romans planted grape vines along building walls, resulting, he said, in faster growing and sweeter grapes for wine. The structures are also prevalent in Europe, where modern-day green roofs first took off.
It is a beautiful display and a great way to show environmental commitment. Part of that commitment includes sourcing materials locally, and PNC acquired all hardware, plants, materials, and installers within an 800 kilometers radius of downtown Pittsburgh. We hope there will be more similar examples of this green architecture in future.