Fast Company

PNC Bank Building Largest Green Living Wall in U.S.

PNC Green Living WallGreen roofs are a growing trend in the U.S., with buildings as diverse as the California Academy of Sciences, Minneapolis' Target Center and the New York Mets' Citi Field adopting roofs topped with dirt and living plants. But PNC Financial Services Group is taking the lead on green walls, with the largest Green Living Wall in North America scheduled to be constructed on the south side of the bank's Pittsburgh headquarters.

When completed in September, the 2,380-square-foot wall--outfitted with 602 panels of soil--will look much like a painting constructed out of regional plants. The wall will do more than just add aesthetically to the PNC building--it will also provide shade to surrounding sidewalks, absorb sound, and cool the surface of the south wall by 70 to 80 degrees.

All materials, including hardware, plants, and installers are being sourced from a 500 mile radius around Pittsburgh, making the wall an inherently local project. And while one would imagine that such a large covering of living plants requires plentiful water, the wall might just need 15 minutes of watering a week from an internally controlled irrigation system.

PNC hasn't revealed how much the wall will cost or if the investment can be recouped from energy efficiency increases in its headquarters, but the bank is clearly more interested in extending a "green" image of its brand than making money on the venture--PNC has already constructed more LEED-certified green buildings than any other company in the world.


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  • Heather Dodson

    @ Dayrle: Of course this is a PR grab, as are most "green" projects, there's no need to be insulting by calling people who like the idea of a green wall "idiots". No one here is as niave as you'd like to think they are. Just because PNC will get some good PR from it doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing. It's the way the world works; auto, oil, banking, and every other industry, including the green industry, have been spinning their PR magic for years.

    It's a cool idea. People will benefit from it, PNC will benefit from it, it will add an interesting element to an already beautiful city, and neither you nor I are paying for it. So what's the problem?

  • Michael Brown

    Like "green roofs", this is unfortunately just another PR grab aimed at the uninitiated masses of people who don't know any better. "Green" roofs require an insane amount of precautionary measures from water proofing to specialized drainage to additional structural fortification to support the extra loads. By the time any savings from lower cooling costs are finally realized, it's time for some costly roof repair work - which, by the way, will cost more that the average roof repair/replacement. All for the sake of "giving back" to the environment, or replacing the CO2 that the building's footprint took from the land it sits on. As if the wearth is really hurting that bad for an additional 15,000 sq.ft. patch of grass.

    Similarly, a "green" wall such as this, though admirable for the heat gain reductions to the building envelope it will bring, may cost more than the very simple and zero maintenance solution of simply designing buildings with an "outer skin" that "floats" (is suspended) a foot or so away from the face of the building, providing a thermal break. Essentially a giant shade that air can flow behind so that no heat gain is realized by the actual building envelope.

    But, hey, if "green walls" can be done in a cost effective manner thta do not require substantial life-time maintenance costs, then more power to them. I think they can be quite attractive.

  • Tom Walker

    Wonderful innovation--and that was the first tag word, "innovation." Interesting to see how it plays out.

  • Daryle Hier

    PNC Financial is doing this for one reason; PR. Get your heads out of the clouds folks, as this "green" image thing is about money and manipulation (plus control for governments). Is there that many simple idiots?