The stock market may be booming but the continuation of America’s urban renaissance could well depend, surprisingly, on flowers.
Not just blooming gardens in parks and along boulevards but also in year-round planted walls. In other words, living walls or, as the New York Times headlined the phenomena, “Gardens That Grow On Walls” with products from companies like LiveWall, LLC, located not far from Grand Rapids.
This year the first of the 86-million strong Millennials generation turns thirty. And because they will begin seeking greener and more serene space and an escape from urban noise and air pollution, demographers are predicting a reverse flight to the suburbs of up to twenty-five percent of these highly desirable residents. With them would go a big chunk of these cities’ tax bases.
For more than a decade, America’s best cities have ridden a population boom of young people fueled by hip coffee shops, ubiquitous WiFi, abundant office space, good public transportation, performance centers and a new generation of lofts and other cool living spaces.
The aggregation of all of these factors lured young entrepreneurs into the cities followed by the highly educated and technically astute employees who support them. Owning a car proved unnecessary if you live in downtown Denver, Dallas, Austin, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Boston or Washington, D.C. This savings permits these knowledge workers instead to purchase smart phones, tablets, sophisticated applications and other must-have tools of the tech-savvy.
No surprise that instead of forsaking the intellectual hot houses found in today’s best cities and submitting to time-wasting suburban commutes, some Millennials are addressing their concerns for stress reduction, better breathing, and greener lifestyles by erecting a vertical garden, both inside and outside of their urban residences and offices. In other words, they are making their beloved cities bloom.
“LiveWall makes a vertical garden that may be securely attached to both indoor and outdoor walls,” explains David S. MacKenzie, CEO of the 115-acre greenhouse empire that distributes everything one needs for a thriving, year-round living wall through a national dealer network. LiveWall is a sister company to LiveRoof, LLC, from which MacKenzie helped drive the green roof revolution across the US in the 21st Century.
MacKenzie studied an array of rush-to-market products and the rows of dead flower boxes that some competitors produced. Instead, LiveWall has made today’s best living wall designs easy-to-install, low maintenance, sustainable and durable. MacKenzie’s green wall designs even perform carefully metered self-watering, enabling their owners to travel without fear that their plants will die. A planted wall’s contributions to heating and cooling energy reduction, better breathing, and mental and physical health are heralded monthly across lifestyle, health and medical publications and by television programs like The Today Show.
“With our living wall, you can mix ornamentals for color and patterns and delightful aromas, but you can also grow herbs so that anyone who cooks can boast of a year-round gourmet kitchen,” MacKenzie says, “enabling downtown restaurants and loft dwellers alike to serve savory dishes at every meal.
“It’s the perfect answer for those people who love living and working downtown and don’t want to spend 15 hours a week commuting in a car. One look and people are intrigued,” MacKenzie reports. “What persuades them are LiveWall’s contributions to thermal insulation, noise and stress reduction, and the sheer natural beauty it is possible to create even in a few hundred feet of living space.
“People in technology talk constantly about tech transfer,” MacKenzie observes. “LiveWall is making it possible for these same people to engage in ‘green transfer,’ in other words, bringing the health-giving qualities of natural plants right into their urban homes and offices.
“Of course the low cost of installation and maintenance are compelling, too,” MacKenzie adds.
“And who wouldn’t forgo an expensive and exhausting commute with its plume of carbon emissions for that?” he asks.