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Going green costs college green

BELLEVILLE, ON (1/17/2012) Kirk Fleming, the Director of Facility Services, oversees the contract between Loyalist College and the company who maintains it. The living or "green" wall was constructed with the link longue costing $50,000 from the student body. Fleming has worked for Loyalist College for the past 13 and a half years. Photo by Mark Tarnovetsky.

By Mark Tarnovetsky

The cost of going green is about to set in.

The responsibility of maintaining the living wall, a section of wall in the Link Lounge of Loyalist College made entirely of green plants, is to be transferred to the facility services department by the end of March.

A living, or “green” wall, is a self-sufficient vertical garden that uses a recycled water support system.

The living wall’s upkeep is covered under a warranty in a contract that expires at the end of March, after which the facilities department at Loyalist will take full responsibility. Maintenance will include a monthly routine of inspection of the plants and water filtration system.

The living wall was built during the construction of the Link Lounge in April of last year, connecting Loyalist College’s main building with the new Sustainable Skills, Technology and Life Sciences Centre.

The cost of the living wall amounted to  $85,000.

“Loyalist College students’ ancillary fees were used for this project,” Loyalist Student Government business manager Julie Cooper confirmed.

Full-time students are required to pay an ancillary fee of $969. Winter registration students’ pay $484.50, and summer students $261.50. The fee is used for various projects, not only the living wall.

“There is always a cost concern for something new,” Kirk Fleming admitted.

Fleming, the director of facility services at Loyalist, has estimated annual maintenance costs to reach $1,800.

Over 300 individual plants make up the wall, featuring 15 different species.  Fans have been installed inside the wall so the roots have enough air circulation.

Fleming believes the living wall “adds to the atmosphere” of the Link Lounge.

Despite the living wall’s pleasing esthetics, the system is not connected to Loyalist College’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system. Some living walls work in conjunction with a building’s air conditioning system, lowering costs, however, Loyalist College’s living wall is cosmetic only.

“If you just put a bunch of plants in your home you’re going to get the same results as the wall. It just saves us space and everything is in one area to maintain,” Fleming said.