Design and Install a Living Wall System Montgomery County, MD

Design and Install a Living Wall System
Montgomery County, MD
Request for Proposal (RFP) No. FOH-1
Using Plants to Improve Indoor Air Quality
The average person spends 90% of their time indoors. According to some scientific studies the
air in our homes, schools and offices can be 10 times more polluted than the air outdoors. To
maintain a comfortable indoor climate modern buildings are as airtight as possible. The good
thing about being airtight is a limit to the cost of heating and cooling the space. The bad thing
about being airtight is that pollutants from building materials or activities of the occupants may
accumulate. An accumulation of pollutants negatively impacts the air quality. Poor indoor air
quality can decrease the productivity and possibly threaten the health of the occupants. To avoid
the build-up of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)1 and other indoor air pollutants most
buildings have ventilation systems. A ventilation system brings in air from the outside to
displace some of the inside air. Heating or cooling the introduced air requires substantial energy
resulting in a significant cost to the operation of a building. To help reduce the amount the
amount of energy consumed by buildings other techniques to improve air quality are needed.
One of the techniques currently being explored is the installation of living walls. If designed,
installed and maintained properly living walls can provide a connection to nature and positively
impact indoor air quality. To design a properly functioning living wall a landscape designer must
have an understanding of plant physiology and the environmental needs of plants.
VOCs-Chemicals that easily enter air gases from solids or liquids
Montgomery County Public Schools has gradually been building LEED certified schools to save
energy and decrease heating/cooling costs. The next step in overall environmental improvement
is to focus on enhancing indoor air quality for students and staff. A request for prototypes to test
the feasibility of installing living walls in a school setting has been posted. Your job is to design
and build a living wall structure that can be used as part of the feasibility study. Your wall must
be self-watering and sustainable. The plants must be chosen based on their ability to grow in a
vertical structure and to filter the air. Maintenance should be limited to adding nutrients and light
CRITERIA for the living wall system
a. Plants enhance the environment through filtering air
b. Self-watering system within the structure that does not leak and provides
sufficient amount of water
c. Stable support structure that enables the plants to thrive on a vertical plane
d. Functional, sustainable and visually appealing
e. Adheres to budget
a. Cost
b. MCPS garden installation guidelines
c. Availability of building materials
d. Availability of plant species from local grower
a. Nine weeks from design to implementation :______________
Research requirements
a. Plant physiology and requirements for growth (e.g. substrate, water, nutrients)
b. Plant propagation of specific plants chosen for optimal air quality impact
c. Best design system for living wall, and ways to install a living wall system
d. MCPS approval process for garden installation
e. Costs
Each individual must submit:
 Designfolio
 Provide research data to show at least eight indoor plant varieties that help
improve air quality
 Vertical living wall design that includes a leak free irrigation system
 Plant layout plan that is functional and visually appealing
 Pamphlet that explains benefits and care of living wall to school staff and students
 Cost analysis of materials for the living wall, including the cost of the plants
Prior to a final presentation you will show your design to the class and hear feedback
from your peers about the design. You will use feedback to modify your design and
budget before submitting them to the stakeholder group.
You will present your design plan to a stakeholder group that includes representation
from the school staff, community, and/or governmental organizations. During the
presentation you will have a chance to share your design and use research to support
your recommendation. The design that best fits the criteria will be chosen as a
demonstration project to be installed at your school.
Tips for presenting:
 Present with confidence
 Defend your idea
Listen to feedback