National Grid is the latest company to claim the largest living wall in Europe. At their headquarters, known as the National Grid House, just outside of Warwick at the site that controls the United Kingdom's power distribution, the company recently built a new car park. They then commissioned One World Design to wrap the whole thing with a massive vertical garden measuring 11,054 square meters, resulting in a substantial carbon sink that aims to demonstrate the importance of sustainability--even to a power distribution company.
Vertical gardens and living roofs have become enormously popular in recent years. In France, for example, all buildings are required to be topped with either solar panels or a green roof. But vertical gardens are also frequently used to improve a company’s public persona.
“National Grids [sic] commitment to sustainability in all their undertakings has meant that the brief for a new car park on this site would always lead to something extraordinary – with the car park now finished it has literally come alive,” according to a recent press release. And alive it is with more than 97,000 plants and 20 different species particularly tailored to attract bees and butterflies.
The 446-space car park was designed to minimize site disturbance, yet building car parks also creates incentive for employees to keep driving instead of, say, riding bicycles. Since this doesn’t really match up with the green ethos the company is attempting to portray, the green wall helps to offset their environmental impact, at least in the public’s perception.
A lot of thought has gone into this particular vertical garden.
“The living wall is designed to add both to the ecology and biodiversity of the area but also it will flower and bloom adding colour and variety with the seasons. Fruit bearing plants are included – strawberries for instance.”
It also includes bird and insect boxes, which is an important service in a world where humans are pushing pollinators and other creatures to the brink of extinction. Other sustainability efforts include 558 low-energy LED lights and a porous road to absorb runoff.