In an Australian-first, research commissioned by leading nature-based solutions company Junglefy has quantified the net economic benefit of investment in pioneering technology like Breathing Walls™.
- Research identifies $3.44 of benefits for every dollar invested in Breathing Walls within office workplace environments.
- Breathing Wall extracts over 50 per cent more CO2 than a passive green wall.
- Natural amenity, noise reduction and air purification enhance health and wellbeing and boost workplace productivity.
Junglefy, a strategic adviser on what will become the world’s tallest vertical garden – Melbourne's STH BNK by Beulah development – commissioned The Centre for International Economics (CIE) to analyse the performance of different nature-based infrastructure set-ups and calculate the return on investment they deliver in areas such as employee productivity, performance, amenity, and health and wellbeing.
Among the systems scrutinised was Junglefy’s Breathing Wall technology, an active modular green wall system which accelerates the removal of air pollutants while acting as a sound barrier and temperature regulator, improving air quality and acoustics, and reducing air-conditioning costs.
The Breathing Wall proved to be the most effective nature-based system for Australia’s built environment, delivering a benefit-to-cost ratio of nearly three times for indoor commercial office environments, and almost two times for various outdoor settings.
In net economic terms, every $1 invested in a Breathing Wall delivers $3.44 in social welfare benefits in an office application, according to the findings, while a return of $1.95 is achieved when a Breathing Wall is applied to an outdoor setting.
Junglefy CEO Suzie Barnett says the research is an important next step in demonstrating the value of nature-based systems in our cities and urban environments, particularly given the role workplace wellbeing now has in encouraging workers back to the office post-pandemic.
“There is no longer a disconnect between economic terms and social welfare benefits of nature-based solutions,” Ms Barnett says.
“The CIE report, based on robust and peer-reviewed research, clearly shows that human wellbeing and business productivity benefits of innovative technologies like the Breathing Wall can be achieved cost-effectively.”
In conducting its research, CIE analysed peer-reviewed research, including a landmark 2019 study by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS)*, into the effectiveness of passive green walls and potted plants and compared the findings with primary data collected on Junglefy’s Breathing Wall on the same metrics. Among the key findings within an office were:
- Particulate matter: The Breathing Wall removed 41% of particulate matter, compared to 29% by potted plants and 23% by standard green walls.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): The Breathing Wall was shown to remove 92% of VOCs, far superior to green walls (21%) and potted plants (29%).
- CO2 removal: With appropriate lighting, the Breathing Wall removed 31% of CO2 from the air, compared to 20% by a standard green wall.
- Noise reduction of 41% (4.1 dBc) can be achieved through the installation of an indoor Breathing Wall compared with laminated MDF.
- Cooling: The Breathing Wall generated indoor temperature reductions of 1-1.5°C during the day and 2.5-3°C at night through plant transpiration. A 50sqm Breathing Wall is capable of cooling 88 cubic metres of air.
Commenting on the findings, lead researcher, Associate Professor Fraser Torpy from the Plants and Environmental Quality Research Group at UTS said:
“The building and construction sector generates 37 per cent of global emissions, and is generally recognised as the major target for developing sustainable solutions to target climate change. Our research on the Breathing Wall has surprised us at every turn: we predicted pollutant removal, but the scale a which all forms of pollutants can be removed from the air both inside and outside buildings at full scale, and then de-toxified by this system are quite remarkable. The system has now been tested for a broad range of environmental effects, with highly positive findings in every case. That it also provides a positive return on investment is further evidence that the Breathing Wall is a high value nature-based solution for many of the looming crises our cities are facing.”
CIE then used those findings to quantify the benefits of the different nature-based systems in dollar terms, drawing on global data on the effects air quality has on cognitive function, productivity, healthcare needs and absenteeism rates.
That return on investment included indoor air purification benefits of $1,279 per square metre of Breathing Wall each year – or $197 for each employee.
Principal Economist, Maurice Gauder from CIE explains, “Cost-benefit analysis is an appraisal technique which estimates the costs and benefits of a project in monetary terms. This allows us to systematically assess the economic viability of the Breathing Wall, using scientific evidence of the impacts of the Breathing Wall, as well as broader scientific and economic literature on green infrastructure and its economic value. This helps provide greater transparency around the Breathing Wall’s expected impacts and their relative importance to society.”
“Our analysis shows that the Breathing wall delivers strong economic returns for both indoor and outdoor applications, well in excess of costs.
Junglefy’s Ms Barnett says the findings provide much-needed insights into the economic benefits of nature-based systems within our workplaces and urban environments.
“Net zero carbon and employee health and wellbeing play an interconnected role in creating workplaces that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable – both now and into the future. Yet they have traditionally been factored independently by building designers and owners as well as those who actually use them,” Ms Barnett says.
“Employers are encouraging workers back to the office under the new hybridity of work; key to achieving this is creating a workspace that is truly fit for purpose. We simply cannot afford not to leverage the benefits of nature-based solutions in creating productive, flexible and sustainable places of work. It’s time to Junglefy our cities.”
Junglefy is behind some of Australia’s most iconic nature-based development projects, including Sydney’s One Central Park, Manly Vale Carpark and Lendlease’s Barangaroo headquarters.