Towards Smart Green Wall Maintenance and Wallbot Technology

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Property Management, 2021
Issue Date:
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The UN forecast of a 3 degree Celsius global temperature increase by 2100 will exacerbate excessive heat. Population growth, urban densification, climate change and global warming contribute to heat waves, which are more intense in high-density environments. With urbanisation, vegetation is replaced by impervious materials which contribute to the Urban Heat Island effect. Concurrently, adverse health outcomes and heat related deaths are increasing and heat stress affects labour productivity. More green infrastructure, such as green walls, is needed to mitigate these effects, however maintenance costs, OH&S issues and perceptions of fire risk inhibit take up. What if these barriers could be overcome by a green wallbot? This research examines the feasibility of integrating smart technology in the form of a Wallbot. The research design comprised two workshops with key stakeholders; comprising green wall designers and installers, green wall maintenance teams, project managers and building owners with green wall installations, horticulture scientists, designers and mechatronics engineers. The aim was to gain a deeper understanding of the issues affecting maintenance of green walls on different building types in New South Wales Australia to inform the design of a prototype robot to maintain green walls. The wallbot has great potential to overcome the perceived barriers associated with maintaining green walls and also fire risk and detection. If these barriers are addressed, other locations, such as the sides of motorways or rail corridors, could be used for more green wall installations thereby increasing mitigation of UHI. This innovation would be a welcome addition to smart building technology and property maintenance This is a pilot study and the sample of stakeholders attending the workshops was small, though experienced. The range of green walls is varied and it was decided to focus initially on a specific type of green wall design for the prototype wallbot. Therefore other types, and sizes, of green walls may suit other specifications of wallbot design. To date no robot exists that maintains green walls and this innovative research developed a prototype for trialling maintenance and inspection. To date no robot exists that maintains green walls. No study to date has assessed stakeholder perceptions and developed prototype wallbot technology.
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