Bogota “vertical garden” aims to make Colombia’s capital greener

World Today

The “vertical garden” in Bogota, Colombia is the largest in the world. And the structure is helping make the capital greener.

Michelle Begue explains how it works.

In the middle of Bogota’s urban expanse of concrete, lies a green wonder. The leafy exterior of an 11-story building is the largest vertical garden in the world.

“A city like Bogota only has about only four square meters per inhabitant of green areas and the World Health Organization says we should have at least 15,” said Pablo Atuesta Pradilla, CEO of Groncol, Green Infrastructures. “So this is truly a reminder for the whole city that buildings need to be greener, so we can compensate for the lack of green areas and have a much healthier place for the people.”

Its exterior is not only pleasant to look at, it provides positive benefits for the city. A vertical garden of this size produces enough oxygen for around three-thousand people each year.

Santalaia is a giant air purifier. These green walls are a carbon sink, absorbing the annual carbon dioxide emissions from nearly 750 cars, filtering an estimated two thousand tons of greenhouse gases and trapping nearly a half-ton of dust.

“A tree is always more efficient for compensating carbon footprint,” said Atuesta Pradilla. “But since we don’t have enough space to plant so many trees we have to use unused space like roofs and walls to compensate so these solutions. Vertical gardens and green roofs are great.”

The building uses rainwater and recycled shower water to irrigate the plants. On rainy days, a computer lets the building know that the garden doesn’t need watering.

And it doesn’t cost extra to live there. The square meter price of these apartments is the same as other new buildings in the sector. But, because of the public benefit, the builders argue for more government incentives to help lower the costs.

“The biggest challenge is that there should be financial incentives to do this,” said Luis Guillermo Vallejo, General Manager of Exacta Construction. “Because this building benefits many people, not only aesthetically but also environmentally.”

These pillars of vegetation feature more than a 115-thousand plants from ten different species, creating a literal urban jungle that is green in more ways than one.