Grow Your Own Fresh Air

If you follow me on Twitter, then you may know I recently started back up in UCLA’s interior design program. I’m easing into it with a light schedule this quarter, and one of the classes I’m taking is all about ecological and sustainable design. Fun!

Our professor mentioned this building in Milan, which is currently being built. Apparently Milan has terrible air quality, so the goal in building this high rise is for all of the air that comes into the building to pass through a series of plants first, naturally filtering the air. Because as they taught us in elementary school science class, plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen! Brilliant! (I’m hoping for a trip to Italy sometime in the near future, and hoping even more that this will be built by then so I can go see it in real life!)

Many plants also have a natural ability to filter out toxins that travel through the air, such as those nasty fumes from VOC’s used in paints, glues, and even carpeting. SOM designed a living air filter that could cut down VOC’s in a typical office building by 80%. That’s a whole lot more fresh air at work!

So I got to thinking. What other ways are people using plants and vertical gardens to improve their quality of life and the quality of the air they breath? Well for one, there has been a significant movement in vertical gardening lately, and Patrick Blanc seems to be at the head of it.

Blanc had the record for the world’s largest living wall (located in Madrid), until Francesco Bollani one-up’ed him with this one in Milan.

Patrick Blanc is also responsible for this overpass in New Zealand. Wouldn’t it be magical if all of Los Angeles’ overpasses looked like this? Less concrete, more plants!

What about underused indoor spaces, you say? Well last time my husband and I traveled to the East coast we had a layover at Chicago O’Hare and discovered this incredible vertical garden (video). And it’s not just for show! It’s a fully functioning hydroponic vegetable garden, and the restaurants in the airport are welcome to use these fresh veggies and herbs in the meals they prepare for you while you wait for your next flight. (This was probably my favorite discovery in an airport, ever… so much more exciting than realizing an airport has not one but TWO Dunkin’ Donuts…)

If you want to bring more fresh air into your own home (and especially if simply opening a window is more like inviting smog in and letting oxygen out), Kamal Meattle suggests the Areca Palm, Mother-in-law’s Tongue, and the Money Plant in this video. I’ll admit this is not the most entertaining Ted Talk I’ve ever seen, but he talks about his involvement in a huge project in India where they have brought a veritable forest of these plants inside to vastly improve the air quality in some huge office buildings in Delhi. Adding a few of these plants to your house seems a simple way to boost your oxygen levels at home in the same way.

Do you have indoor plants in your house? Will you be adding any to your indoor environment now?

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5 thoughts on “Grow Your Own Fresh Air

  1. That’s pretty incredible. We don’t have plants inside cuz my cat would eat them, or aubrey would play with the dirt. Tried flowers once – Butters (our cat) knocked the whole damn thing over. I’ll just stick to the pretty paintings we have of scenery that my grandpa did!

  2. Wow! The airport garden is really inspiring! I want to add plants in the home. Maybe in the sun room. I tried planting in the backyard last year and we did get a few tomatoes, but the basil and peppers died. I’d like to plant some herb/veggies and inside some green plants.

    Btw I think it’s great you signed up for the interior design program. I love our living room/arcade room and it’s mostly because of your suggestion with the paint colors. My next project will be to re-design the sun-room. Going to put in terracota tiles and paint the wooden walls white.

  3. Ahh, yes, cats do complicate things! I’ve been lucky mine haven’t had much of a habit of eating my plants, but we are definitely careful about how many and what kinds we put out so they won’t get sick if they do! I have also found cat grass to be a welcome diversion for them, and they love it!

  4. Your sunroom would be a fantastic place for plants! Maybe it’s spring, or maybe it’s a current trend, but I have been seeing a ton of wonderful indoor planter ideas on all the design blogs lately. You can get really creative with it! Vegetables are another step up in the level of maintenance, but if you have a good spot in your yard with the right amount of sunlight, it would be a wonderful addition! And thanks for the compliment on your living room! Anytime you need anything design wise just let me know!

  5. Pingback: This Week I Loved… | The Anecdotal Goat

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