Fire safety a must for green walls on towers

The latest trend in buildings is to install green walls. These walls can come in many shapes, sizes and varieties. 

However, when poorly maintained they can pose a fire risk and danger to the Australian public.

Unlike other countries, Australia is yet to catch up to updated building laws and fire safety procedures for the green wall phenomenon.

Designer Plants founder, David Eden believes that “builders and engineers need to look carefully into the products they choose – we’ve specifically designed a range of panels with a 0 flame spread for commercial developments and tall residential towers”.

Fire safe green walls

Green walls are growing in popularity, but their safety has come under question, especially for living walls. In 2012 a fire in Redfern raised the alarm not just on the need for fire tested green walls, but to ensure proper policies and regulations were in place. The living green wall at the bar came alight after a burning candle came too close to its proximity. The obvious thing to note here is that anything that could ignite a fire (like a candle), should not be near a green wall in the first place!

As more people call for sustainable measures and the green wall trend continues, builders and developers will look to add more of these fixtures to apartment blocks, commercial properties and in their landscape designs. Although, with this comes added costs, that those in the industry may look to cut back or avoid. Hence, why some experts are saying that there needs to be laws within Australia that protect people from practices that may be deemed unsafe.

Designer Plants lead designer, Georgina Oxley believes that “too often there is a race to the bottom; cutting out what people can’t see – too often we have had people say their range is fire tested, however, they’re not and they can’t produce any evidence. We’ve had them tested locally in Victoria and have the reports to back these claims up”.

Fire safety for artificial greenery

As builders and developers look for affordable or maintenance free options, artificial greenery is also top of mind. Of course, unlike living walls the faux variety comes without the need of a full suite irrigation system or to trim back plant growth. The walls remain green all year round. However, alike most materials – an artificial green wall does pose some fire risk.

There is obviously a difference between covering your back fence with fake hedging, and cladding a multi- story building with it.

At this point in time in Australia there are no fire standards for artificial plants and fake green walls. And there is little to no regulation of the living walls, unlike overseas. That said, there are building codes and regulations that operate within Australia that refer to flammability, smoke and other fire related characteristics. There is also heightened interest for fire safety in buildings after the Grenfell Tower incident involving plastic-filled aluminum panels referred to as cladding. This continued when government buildings in Australia were found with similar materials.

Whilst artificial plants and green walls are not said to be dangerous to Australian households and businesses, you may decide (along with independent advice) that investing in fire retardant green walls is an option suitable for your property or environment. Designer Plants released a new range of fire tested green walls this year, a new generation of greenery known as “Select”. The artificial plants have been tested independently for fire and ignition.

Source: Designer Plants

Image courtesy of Designer Plants