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UWRF to install living green wall

September 26, 2014

Psychology Professor Travis Tubre (left), horticulture Professor Terry Ferriss (middle), and agricultural business Professor David Trechter (right) have been awarded a grant for a living green wall.
Psychology Professor Travis Tubre (left), horticulture Professor Terry Ferriss (middle), and agricultural business Professor David Trechter (right) have been awarded a grant for a living green wall. (Maggie Sanders/Student Voice)

UW-River Falls received a grant from the National Foliage Foundation to install a living green wall in one of the classrooms in the Ag Science building.

The goal of the installation is to see if there are academic and psychological benefits that are identifiable with the presence of a green wall in a classroom setting.

Psychology Professor Travis Tubre, horticulture Professor Terry Ferriss, and David Trechter, director of the UWRF Survey Research Center and Professor of Ag Economics have teamed up on the living green wall proposal.

A living green wall is a vertical growing structure which houses various types of plants. The living green wall is selfsustaining with an irrigation system that recirculates. The UWRF green wall will be roughly eight feet tall and 12 feet wide.

“Once the green wall is fully filled in, it will look like a bunch of house plants growing up a wall,” Trechter said.

The concept of a living green wall is a recent development in the last five years. Although other universities, such as Harvard, have installed green walls, UWRF will be the first in the UW System to not only install a green wall, but also test what happens when plants are put into classrooms.

“People have looked at the impact of indoor plants, but we haven’t seen it in an educational environment,” Tubre said. “And we haven’t seen it with a vertical structure like a green wall.”

There will also be a number of undergraduate students involved with the project. Students will help with installation, wall design, survey development and analysis.

“It’s a chance for students to work on an actual wall installation, and be engaged in a research aspect on campus,” Ferriss said.

The team will use various research methods to test how the green wall impacts students and faculty.

“We know that the presence of plants in indoor environments will improve people’s overall productivity in the workplace; it improves their mood, it lowers stress levels, there is less anxiety, people interact more positively with one another, anger issues go down and people also become more creative,” Ferriss said.

Students across multiple fields, including psychology and horticulture, will be involved with the project.

“There’s something about that little presence of nature in an unnatural setting that I think will click something somewhere in the brain and help students to focus,” said horticulture major Brittany Rootes.

UWRF will be collaborating with McCaren Designs out of the Twin Cities on the design and installation of the wall. Mc- Caren Designs will be providing the structural support wall panel at a discount. They will also be helping to develop a system that will provide the most success in an academic setting.

“The overarching goal is to see if there are academic, psychological, health and overall wellbeing benefits of having this structure in the classroom both for students and instructors,” Tubre said.

Additional support for the project is being provided by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science (CAFES), and the Green Plants for Green Building Association.

The living green wall is scheduled to be installed in January of 2015 during winter break.