With the dog days of summer bearing down on us, some begin to long for a crisp winter’s day or a nice fall breeze. With temperatures well over 100 degrees in areas of the United States, it’s no wonder this thinking has come about. However, why shouldn’t we be able to enjoy these boiling days? If only there was some way to cool down city streets and make the heat manageable. Oh wait, there is: plants.
A recent study from the University of Melbourne shows that plants can directly reduce heat by up to nine degrees. While this might not seem like a lot, there is a big difference (to me at least) between 81° and 90°. Plants act like natural air conditioners and evaporate water in their leaves to leave the air nice and cool. More plants please!
Research has shown that, oftentimes, cities are hotter than their surrounding areas. This is because of something called the “urban heat island effect.” Because cities contain numerous hard, nonporous surfaces that absorb heat, they remain hotter than surrounding areas. They also tend to lack green spaces and trees that would absorb hot air. As a result, the sweltering heat is inescapable because both the buildings and streets radiate it.
While this may seem hopeless, plants can come to the rescue! Plants are consistently cooler than common materials and manage to bring the temperature down. Whether on buildings or in pots, plants are able to provide an escape from the heat. In addition, trees can provide even more relief through their shade. According to the EPA, a tree’s shade can reduce the temperature of surfaces by 20-45°.
One good way buildings and cities can stay cooler is with living green walls. Living green walls are not only aesthetically pleasing but they are proven to reduce the temperature in the summer and insulate buildings in the winter. In fact, exterior living green walls can reduce the surface temperature of their wall by up to 50°.
In addition to just reducing the temperature inside and outside a building, they also offer several other benefits. For example, because they naturally cool or insulate a building, they can provide huge savings in energy costs. They also are able to reduce noise levels because they absorb some of the clamor. This can be especially good in cities where the noise can be almost as unbearable as the heat! Lastly, living green walls are able to clean the air of pollutants because they are made of plants; this results in overall better air quality. You will be able to breathe easier knowing your green friends are there to help.
With all this in mind, plants are vital to a hot environment. We all need an escape from the heat, and plants can help even in the smallest ways. Whether a full-blown vertical garden or just a potted plant on your desk, plants are able to help beat the summer heat and keep you cool.
Click here to learn how plants can reduce noise levels in buildings.