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A Living Air Filter: Biowall

Updated on February 5, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Biowall at the University of Queens
Biowall at the University of Queens

A Living Air Filter

I came across a picture of a biowall air filter on the Queen's University,Faculty of Applied Science, Integrated Learning Centre . They have created a three story wall in the lobby area that is literally a vertical garden! Rather than sculpture or paintings, they have created a dual purpose living art form that is both aesthetically and scientifically beautiful.

The biowall, as it is called, is a natural air filter, due to the large amounts of living plants growing in it. As the air moves through the wall and into the building's office areas the impurities are removed during the photosynthesis process of the plants.

The plants create both beauty and a natural air filter and humidifier in the building where they are living. This creates a unique indoor ecosystem that works.

The fabric that goes into a biowall.
The fabric that goes into a biowall.

Types of Plants Used

The wall was created by attaching two layers of one inch thick, loosely woven plastic material attached to a concrete wall for stability. Plants are then planted in slits in the first layer of the material. As the roots grown downward between the layers of material the plants are firmly held in place. Recirculating water is pumped down the wall, between the layers, with nutrients added as needed. Fans pull the air through the wall and circulate it throughout the building.

Some of the plants that make up this amazing air filter are:

1.Spider Plant

2. Croton

3. Dragon Plant

4.Maidenhair Fern

5. Ivy

6. Ficus

and others. All the plants used are plants that do not produce pollen to cut down on natural allergens.

Words To Know

CO2- Carbon dioxide, the gas that we breathe out and that plants breathe in. In turn they breathe out oxygen and we breathe IT in.

VOCs- Volatile Organic Compounds. Poisonous gasses that are released from nearly every man made thing from cabinets to carpets.

Photosynthesis- The process by which plants use light to make sugar and oxygen, which the plant needs to survive.

Transpiration- the evaporation of water from the leaves of plants.

Leeds Certification- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a system of evaluating a building or a company 's environemntal performance on a points scale.

Other Buildings Use This Technology

This is not the only biowall, however. The Robertson Building in Toronto Canada has a similar wall in it's main lobby. It, like the ILC Biowall, also acts as an air purifier for the lobby of the building. The plants are a combination of native plants and others chosen for their adaptability to low light levels, and their ability to clean pollutants in the air.

There are many more places beginning to use this technology in their desire for Leeds Certification, and unique answers to old problems. The biowall not only purifies the air, but because of the transpiration of the plants it cools the air in the summer and helps keep it humidified in the winter.

Planting a biowall gives a building the ambiance of an atrium in a much smaller space. Plants are relaxing to be around. They are beautiful to look at. With the added benefit of being able to clear a building of VOCs and CO2 build-up you have an almost perfect artform.

Keep an eye on this technology. It will be interesting to see what forms it takes in the net five to ten years.

Explanation of A Vertical Gardening System


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Any Bio-wall Suppliers or manufacturers available in India?What would be the price (as per Indian Rupees)?Who are its current users in India(i.e)Individuals or corporates?What are its Legal Implications in India?

    • profile image

      Filtrete Air Filters 

      8 years ago

      This is really a neat idea, much better than the typical boring air purifier.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Fungus and mold don't grow as there is a constant cycle of water and freash air.

    • profile image

      Colleen Fals 

      9 years ago

      What happens when fungus grows in the plant wall and mold starts to grow? And you are an asthmatic with an allergy to mold?

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      :) Thanks!

    • bwsot7m profile image


      10 years ago from Toronto

      Great post! I newsvined it.


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