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The Pesky Side of Green Buildings

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Green Design

The Pesky Side of Green Buildings


January 4, 2021
Building with hanging greenery
Photo: korkeng

Building green has flourished and architects are designing spaces that feature sustainable construction methods, high performance features—even physically green structures. Some of these design choices include wall and roof gardens. By attempting to connect humans with nature, these vegetation-covered buildings are attracting pests, overgrowing, and even keeping tenants away, according to The Conversation. The 826-unit apartment complex in the Chinese city of Chengdu is the perfect example: it features live vegetation on every open space and balcony. And with the lush greenery comes pesky bugs, such as mosquitos. While every unit was reportedly sold by April 2020, only a handful of tenants had actually moved in by October.

The towers were built in 2018 and plants were provided to reduce noise and clean up pollution. But the plants thrived, while sales moved slowly, and no one was clipping the greenery to keep it in control.

Now mostly empty balconies have cascading branches of plants overtaking space, blocking windows.

It might not help that Chengdu and its population of 16.3 million people are located in Sichuan, central China, which is humid and semi-tropical, a perfect environment for fast-breeding mossies.

But a slow uptake, with tenants slow to move in, made the problem worse as the plants subsumed their buildings.

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