Nova Scotia Community College

Nova Scotia Community College Centre for the Built Environment Green Wall

Halifax, NS

Award Winner
Outside! Planning & Design Studio

Project Team

Growers, Planters, & Design Consultant: Tim Amos, Kingstec Campus NSCC
Irrigation: Greg Keddy, Rousseau Irrigation
Project Coordination & Design: Sue Sirrs, Outside! Planning & Design Studio
Structural Engineering: Roy McBride, BMR Structural Engineering

A Living Building Teaching Tool for Cold All Seasons

Starting in 2008 as a two-year research initiative to see if permanent living walls could be sustained in cold climates, this 1000ft2 structure has not only survived but thrived in a Canadian Zone 5 coastal climate, and is the first permanent, exterior cold-climate living wall in Canada. 6o plant species were tested and five structural prototypes were developed before the design was settled on.

The living wall is a regular part of Ivany Campus tours and is used as a tool to teach students sustainable design techniques. Located at the college’s front doors, the wall is highly visible and engages the broader community, communicating the message that there are alternate ways to build.

Project success was based on two key design drivers, free lateral root run, ensuring plant roots are never confined; and early development of a deep root system, encouraged by watering deep within planting baskets encouraging roots to reach deep into the soil medium. Rhizomatous plants were sought afterwards to provide a contiguous vegetation cover.

Irrigation and over-wintering were key concerns and addressed by installing two irrigation systems. The primary system turned out to be more complex than needed and was adjusted to a simple pump from the roof-water collection tank. Water gravity feeds through the top of the wall to the lower levels and ongoing maintenance is been provided by a group of dedicated college staff.

Judges praised this project for its spirit of innovation and willingness to learn and adapt to traditionally inhospitable environments for the technology.