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It’s a type of wall that cools and is green. Literally.

Joe Zazzera, president and CEO of Scottsdale-based Plant Solutions Inc., talked about vertical green, or living, walls Friday during the Big Green Expo and Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“Living walls are named many different names -- green walls, plant walls, bio walls -- they are all the same thing and that is a vertical structure that is landscaped,” said Zazzera, who is an accredited green roof professional. “They are used both inside and outside.”

Although green walls are a young industry, the concept has been around for thousands of years through nature, he said. People are now learning how to build the technology for it in homes and offices.

Living walls can be seen throughout Phoenix, Zazzera said. At some light-rail stations, a type of living trellised wall decorates the platform.

“The purpose of this living wall is to cool the air around the train station, so when you’re waiting for your train the air around it is being moved around,” Zazzera said.

There are seven different types of living walls and they vary in price and the system used.

The most basic are the trellised ones and range in price from $50 to $100 per square foot. Zazzera said he favored the fixed-hydroponic system which ranges from $50 to $100.

“One reason is that it gives you plenty of options for design and creativity,” Zazzera said.

In the fixed-hydroponic system, the plants are placed in a gray felt type material that keeps the roots watered through an infiltration system. What makes the living wall creative, Zazzera said, is that it’s a vertical wall literally placed on a wall, and the water starts from the top and runs down to the bottom.

Zazzera said the main benefits of living walls are natural air filtration, sound insulation, acoustical separation, reduced occupant stress, thermal regulation and ambiance.

“Ambiance is the No. 1 seller of this. People don’t really think of all the health benefits, but they do see how beautiful and unique it is,” Zazzera said. “That’s what makes them want this in their home or office.”

After Zazzera’s presentation Louise Lesatz, a Valley homeowner, said, “I think because this is my first exposure to this technology I see it around here (Phoenix) and now know how they work. There are so many positives to it and very little negatives, one negative being the cost.”

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