Environment, News

Ungar houses sustainable vertical garden

The ECS department installed a living "green wall" in the department lobby in the Ungar building last semester. Hallee Meltzer // Staff Photographer

The ECS department installed a living “green wall” in the department lobby in the Ungar building last semester. Hallee Meltzer // Staff Photographer

The Green Wall, a vertical garden planted last August inside the Ungar Building, was once green and flourishing.

Over the course of the last semester, however, difficulties with lighting and irrigation led to many of the wall’s original 110 plants dying out. This semester’s Green Wall Stewards, a pair of student volunteers, are working to revitalize the wall.

The Green Wall, which was planted with native Florida plants by Ecosystem Science and Policy (ECS) students and faculty, stretches from floor to ceiling between two windows of the Abess Center for ECS lobby in the second floor of Ungar. Rows of plants including wild coffee, oxalis and mother-in-law tongue are anchored into the wall.

The wall was implemented as a teaching tool and a way to create a more natural indoor environment.

“There is a real psychological boost from having growing things around,” said Gina Maranto, director of the undergraduate ECS program.

Since the beginning of the semester, Terri Hood, the faculty adviser for the project, and the Green Wall Stewards have been using innovative methods to identify and resolve problems the wall faces.

“It has been a learning experience,” said Hood, who is also the assistant director of the ECS program.

To see the progress of the plants, the stewards have begun to compare the color of the plants’ leaves to various shades of green paint chips.  By doing so, the stewards can see if the color of the leaves darken, which is a sign of the plant’s health.

This technique will be useful in analyzing the effect of a recently added grow bulb, a light that simulates sunlight.

“It is very rewarding to watch the plants grow and respond to what we are doing,” said sophomore Agustina Cortina, a Green Wall Steward.

In addition to biweekly watering, once a week Cortina and fellow steward Derek Sheldon meet with Hood to strategize and evaluate the progress the wall has made. This can be difficult because the different plants have varying water, light and nutrient requirements.

“It has been very trial and error,” Sheldon said. “Responses to changes have been highly variable, even within a plant type.”

As the wall continues to improve, the stewards have began to make the wall more self-sustaining by adding yard collected and more useful plants.

“We would like to put an emphasis on native and strategic edible plants,” Hood said. “It’s the whole concept of pushing people’s minds a little further on the subject of sustainability and the different ways it can manifest in aspects of daily life.”

February 16, 2014

Reporters

Laura Vander Meiden


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

University of Miami athletic director Blake James has no intention of pressuring or forcing coach Ma ...

He’s certainly not a veteran, but for the first time in his college football career, redshirt freshm ...

This November feels a lot more like March for the 24th-ranked University of Miami women’s basketball ...

For a month at a time, Louis Hedley would find himself in the deserts of Australia. His chances at m ...

It has been a trying season for college football fans of two Sunshine State programs: Florida State ...

The On Campus event featured innovative National Geographic Explorers—photographers, scientists, sto ...

UM Professor of Law Frances R. Hill tells us what we should know. ...

An international study led by University of Miami tropical biologists reveals that tropical trees ar ...

UM’s robotics team recently obtained a new robot with the goal of helping aging individuals. ...

New student organization’s mission is a movement to return to the ‘roots’ of natural hair. ...

N'Kosi Perry wants to build off his showing at Georgia Tech with another strong performance thi ...

University of Miami head volleyball coach Jose "Keno" Gandara is excited to announce the s ...

Isaiah Wong and Anthony Walker will join Canes for 2019-20 season. ...

Three University of Miami men's tennis student-athletes – Adria Soriano Barrera, Bojan Jankulov ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team checks in at seventh in the country in ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.