Learning skills for life – Clean air in schools for a healthy future

Over the past few months, subsidies to invest in ventilation in schools have been made available in many countries. The Dutch government, for example, will invest €140 million to make the necessary improvements.1 In the UK, all state-funded education settings received CO2 monitors. Up to 9000 air cleaning units will cover poorly ventilated teaching spaces. This underlines the importance of fresh air in classrooms! Clean air is good for the health of students and teachers and boosts their concentration. Besides investing in ventilation, the purchase of plants is a good addition. Plants have a natural air purifying effect and offer many other advantages at the same time. Not only inside classrooms are plants useful, but also in spaces like the central hall or canteen. In this article, we are happy to explain further what plants do to purify the air and how they can be applied effectively in schools.
Aeres Plantassortiment

More oxygen & less pollution

What plants breathe out, we breathe in – and vice versa! Plants filter fine dust from the air and convert CO2 (carbon dioxide) into oxygen. They therefore function as natural air purifiers. If you opt for a green wall by Sempergreen, one square metre of green wall produces 1.7 kg of oxygen per year and removes 2.3 kg of CO2 from the air.2

A term we hear more and more often is ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ (SBS). Nowadays, buildings are very well insulated, which reduces the amount of fresh air coming in from outside. Harmful substances from building materials, such as benzene, xylene and ammonia, continue to float around inside. Working, learning or living in a poorly ventilated room results in complaints such as headaches, dry eyes, coughing and loss of concentration. Studies confirm that the use of houseplants is a valuable strategy to combat rising levels of indoor air pollution.3 In addition, plants have another special property: transpiration. This means that water is evaporated through the stomata of the plant. It has been shown that plants can therefore be used to create better humidity levels.

The SemperGreenwall is always planted with a carefully selected mix of plants. A number of these air purifying plants (on page 9) are already standard in the selection. Special planting wishes can also be realised. The plants in a green wall contribute naturally to combating Sick Building Syndrome.

Tip: Not sure whether real or fake plants are the best choice for you? We have listed the pros and cons of both:
Real or artificial – which green wall should I choose for my office?

Studies in classrooms to improve the learning environment

A green environment is a good learning environment. It has been proven that a classroom rich in nature creates a atmosphere where pupils become more creative and can concentrate better.4 Several studies have been conducted into the power of plants in classrooms. In a Portuguese study, the normal situation was measured for 3 weeks, followed by a 6-week period with the application of plants. The plants had significant effects on air quality: they found a 30% reduction in PM10, a threefold reduction in VOC (volatile organic compound) concentrations and a twofold reduction in CO2 levels. 5

Photo courtesy of Gabriel Wilcox

To achieve the maximum positive effect, you can opt for a living wall. This is a space-saving way of using many plants and it also improves the acoustics in the building. During open days, this eye-catcher will also attract a lot of attention and can lead to more applications. Get inspired by the following 7 examples of schools that have implemented a vertical indoor garden!

1. Avans University of Applied Sciences - Den Bosch, The Netherlands

At Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch, students can enjoy a break in this green space. There are two green facades facing each other. The green walls run from the ground floor to the top of the first floor. This makes it possible to admire the greenery from the corridor on the first floor as well. A beautiful green oasis for a break from the busy student life!

Photo credits: Ambius

2. University of Chicago (The Keller Center) – Chicago, USA

The SemperGreenwall at the Keller Center is a striking eye-catcher and a breath of fresh air for the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. The green plant wall of a total of 32 m² (350 sq ft) covers part of the concrete wall. The plants are planted in sections and create a striped effect.

3. Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences - Amsterdam, the Netherlands

When entering the technology faculty of the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam, you will be warmly welcomed by this green wall. This CompactLine has an integrated water reservoir, which means that no special water connection or technical room is required. The word ‘Technique’ has been applied to the wall in bronze letters. There are various ways of adding signage to your wall.

4. Videregående skole – Tvedestrand, Norway

In Norway, a school canteen has been decorated with a green wall with a beautiful design. The wall, 16 metres wide and 3.5 metres high, seems like a painting! The selection of used plants includes Phlebodium ‘Blue Star’, Spathipyllum, Scindapsus Golden Pothos and Epipremnum aureum. These are known for their effective air-purifying effect. So the wall not only provides a pleasant learning environment, but is also a beauty to behold!

Photo courtesy: Videregående skole

5. Aeres college – Almere, the Netherlands

At the Floriade in Almere, a new school building has been built. The Aeres college has applied a beautiful green wall in the presentation area. A special planting plan has been made for this wall. By using plants of different sizes, this plant wall has a beautiful 3D effect.

6. University library - Dubai, UAE

How to apply greenery so that it really is a work of art? That is the SemperGreenwall in the library of the Rochester Institute of Technology. The plants are arranged in a colourful design and are a true eye-catcher.

7. Utrecht University of Applied Sciences - Utrecht, Netherlands

It doesn’t have to be big to give a nice effect. A strip of greenery has been installed in the canteen of Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. After a lunch in a pleasant environment, the students can go on to the next lecture fully recharged.

Would you like to know more?

Are you curious how a SemperGreenwall can provide your school building with clean air and also be a nice eye-catcher? Please contact one of our green specialists. We would be happy to advise you.

Sources:

1: Wiersma: €140 miljoen voor extra aanpak verbetering ventilatie. (2022, 30 juni). Rijksoverheid. Geraadpleegd op 20 juli 2022, van https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/actueel/nieuws/2022/06/30/wiersma-%E2%82%AC140-miljoen-voor-extra-aanpak-verbetering-ventilatie

2: Dettmar, J., Pfoser, N., & Sieber, S. (2016). Gutachten Fassadenbegrünung. Technische Universität Darmstadt. https://www.umwelt.nrw.de/fileadmin/redaktion/PDFs/klima/gutachten_fassadenbegruenung.pdf

3: Armijos Moya, T., Ottelé, M., Van den Dobbelsteen, A., & Bluyssen, P. (2017). Green Air Conditioning – Using indoor living wall systems as a climate control method. ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326295347_Green_Air_Conditioning_-_Using_indoor_living_wall_systems_as_a_climate_control_method

4: Nationale Onderwijsgids. (2022, 23 februari). Planten helpen tegen Cito-stress, dus zet je klaslokaal helemaal vol. Geraadpleegd op 20 juli 2022, van https://www.nationaleonderwijsgids.nl/basisonderwijs/nieuws/60690-planten-helpen-tegen-cito-stress-dus-zet-je-klaslokaal-helemaal-vol.html

5: De Visser, P. (2017). Air purification by house plants. Wageningen Plant Research. https://edepot.wur.nl/423129

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