During the Innovation Expo, taking place on April 14th in Amsterdam, a consortium of horticultural businesses will show a prototype of a green wall that produces clean air. An important part of this project is the high-tech sensor ASML, which can accurately measure so-called volatile organic compounds.

The fact that plants provide healthy air by cleaning the air of harmful substances was already demonstrated by NASA in 1989. But is it also possible to guarantee the air quality to the users of buildings? That is the key question in the project ‘Schone lucht garantie’ (Clean air guarantee), an innovation program of the Dutch Horticulture Innovation Foundation SIGN.

Broad consortium

The program is supported by a consortium consisting of Royal FloraHolland, Waterdrinker, Into Green, Van der Tol,Priva, Nieuwkoop Europe BV, and SIGN in alliance with the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Organic Architects was asked by the horticultural consortium to build a prototype of a green wall with a ventilation system, which sends the air actively along the green wall. The higher the concentration of harmful substances, the higher the ventilation speed.


In order to investigate the effect, the researchers put a high concentration of volatile compounds in a room. The actively ventilated green wall was able to degrade the contaminants: methane and urea were halved within three hours, alkanes and cyclic hydrocarbons after 9.5 hours. The baseline measurement showed that without the green wall the contamination remained stable at a high level. This demonstrates that the degradation was caused by the green wall with increased ventilation.

Business concept

In the second phase of this project industrial designers will start to develop a universal ventilation system which, in combination with a variety of existing green wall systems, can contribute to a healthy living and working environment. This system will form the basis for a business concept to provide ‘clean air guarantee’ to building managers.

Source/photo: SIGN.