Lighting for Living Walls: Interior Projects
Lighting can present a unique challenge to incorporating a living wall in your next project. Even though a green wall may be specified in the architectural plans, the lighting requirements are often not well understood, and may not be taken into consideration before arriving at the critical stages of construction.
All plants need light to undergo photosynthesis, the process by which they create food and energy. Sunlight is the best light source, but for interior projects such as offices, restaurants, and retail spaces, optimal sunlight is not always available. It is imperative that you consult with a living wall expert to ensure that the proper lighting plan is in place.
It is often assumed that the existing or proposed lights in a space will be enough for plants to thrive, but most plants - especially those in living walls - have very specific lighting needs. The types of lighting solutions that work aesthetically and practically for a space may not be the best for a green wall. Luckily, there are other lighting options that can be implemented to make sure the coolest element of your project is kept healthy and happy.
Some of your typical lighting specifications for interior projects include: overhead fluorescent lights, recessed lights (incandescent or LED lamps), track lighting (incandescent or LED lamps), and metal halide lamps (usually reserved for warehouses or other high-ceiling spaces). These lighting solutions can work to an extent, but they have quite a few caveats:
Fluorescent lights do not have the intensity to reach the bottom of a large living wall. This results in an uneven light distribution, and only the plants closest to the light source will thrive. The same problem occurs with recessed lights - since they are in the ceiling, the light often cannot reach the lower levels of plants within a green wall.
Track lighting with LED lamps can work for shorter living walls, but they must be placed at least 5 feet away from the wall, have enough heads to cover the width of the living wall, and be angled appropriately to avoid uneven light distribution.
Metal halide lamps are frequently used to light living walls, however, they have many downsides. These lamps tend to run very hot, often needing a cooling fan, and are so intense that they must be installed at least 5 feet away from a green wall to properly disperse the light and avoid burning the plants. They are also not very energy efficient, especially when compared to LED lamps.
At Suite Plants, we recommend directional LED linear fixtures due to their high efficiency and low heat output. Linear fixtures spread light evenly across a living wall, ensuring all plants get the necessary amount of light so they can grow and thrive. These are very low profile fixtures, and can be easily incorporated into almost any building or upfit design.
Sunlite is a global leader in green wall lighting, and we trust them to provide our beautiful living walls with the best lighting. You can read more about their products and recommendations on their website: https://www.sunlitest.com/green-wall-lighting/