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Going Green Vertically

April 22, 2013

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

ENST graduate student Scott Tjaden holds plans for the green wall he is installing on the Animal Sciences building.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Inside one of the wings of the Animal Sciences building on the University of Maryland campus, students with the Department of Environmental Science and Technology (ENST) are constantly researching, testing and analyzing ways to make systems more energy efficient and sustainable. But ENST graduate student Scott Tjaden (pictured right) decided his latest project would be more appropriate for the outside of the building. "What better way to show what we're learning about and what we're researching on a large scale?" says Tjaden.

About a year and a half ago, Tjaden applied for and received a grant from the university's Sustainability Fund to install a green wall on the southern side of the Animal Sciences building. Green walls, or green façade systems, are designed to reduce the sun exposure of buildings in order to cut down on energy needed to condition the interior. They can also help protect a building's exterior, provide cleaner air and promote biodiversity.

Once completed, Tjaden's project will create UMD's very first green wall. "We're hoping this will spur more green walls on campus," he says.

Green Wall DiagramConstruction began early this spring on the wall's trellis system made of tension cable and horizontal rods. Vine-based plants will be installed at the base of the wall that will grow up the trellis system. Tjaden carefully chose plants native to Maryland including passion flowers and jasmine, incorporating school colors into his design. He also plans to create a butterfly garden at the bottom of the structure to make it more aesthetically pleasing. A group of five undergraduate students are assisting Tjaden as part of a capstone project.

Additionally, the green wall and one of the existing brick walls will both be equipped with monitoring devices. This will allow Tjaden to collect and compare data on temperature and energy fluxes between the two surfaces. He also plans to display that data on a TV monitor live inside the building's lobby. "This will extend the passing students' and visitors' knowledge of the system and they can see by the numbers how the system benefits buildings," says Tjaden.

Although Tjaden plans to have the plants installed at the green wall by Maryland Day, April 27, it will be a couple of years before the surface is completely grown in. Tjaden is set to graduate with his master's degree next May but hopes his efforts will inspire other students to take over his green wall project or, create their own.