Green and Living Walls as External Cladding: Managing Risk

Green and Living Walls as External Cladding: Managing Risk

Green or Living Walls are becoming a familiar feature of the built environment. Often incorporated as components of newer and more sustainable construction projects, they provide a visible statement of green intent and benefit city biodiversity, air purity, thermal environment, and noise abatement, and are of proven benefit to wellbeing and mental health.

Credible as these facets are, there remains a need to consider the implications that the provision of Living Walls may have for the resilience of the building, and the continuity of business or provision of services that are provided from it.

Many Living Walls are of a scale and location that presents no additional risk to the scenario that would warrant further consideration, but others, applied at larger scale to a building, might have the potential to exert great influence on the safety and insurability of a building – and others around it – if not properly designed and maintained.

Green and Living Walls as External Cladding: A Joint Guide to Managing Risk has been produced collaboratively between key Living Wall (LW) providers and UK insurers via the FPA’s RISCAuthority research scheme to address the potential risks from fire, escape of water (EoW), and weather events that these systems may present if incorrectly designed or managed. With endorsement from the FPA, RISCAuthority, Vertical Meadow, Viritopia, ABI, Biotecture, Growing Revolution, and Scotscape, the document is arranged in two key parts:

  • Part 1: Living Walls questionnaire
  • Part 2: Background information and guidance

The guide provides a comprehensive review of the core principles of risk control for Living Walls, outlining the documentation, materials, design and maintenance of Living Walls systems, as well as providing an in-depth questionnaire that allows the opportunity for the specifier, façade designer, or architect to describe the proposed Living Wall system to any authority having jurisdiction.

Commenting on the release of the joint guide, Professor Jim Glockling, consultant and former RISCAuthority Director who contributed significantly to its authorship said, “This new risk management document, produced with exceptional collaboration between all stakeholders, sets out an agreed suite of core control principles, provides a framework for information exchange with the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), and establishes methods of control so that the design may be tailored to meet the needs of all. With some solution parameters currently unverified, the document is as much a call for further research and testing as it is a guidance document.”

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BDC 318 : Jul 2024