Founded in 2011, Habitat Horticulture designs, builds and maintains extraordinary living walls and botanic installations that transform and enrich the spaces they inhabit. Our mission is to bring awe-inspiring plant-centric spaces to promote people’s connection with nature in the built environment. We design, manufacture and maintain living wall systems for residential and commercial projects, public space installations, cultural landmarks, historic institutions and workplaces around the country – from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies.
Services include: Living Wall Design, Build and Maintenance; Preserved Moss and Plant Walls; Interior Plantscaping; Biophilic Design Consulting; Custom Plant Design; Living Wall Event Rentals; Living Partitions; Direct to Consumer Products –The Living Table and introducing Gromeo™ in 2020
This summer, Habitat Horticulture is debuting a unique product made available direct to consumers – Gromeo™, a pint-sized, self-watering living wall planter for homes meant to bring the benefits of indoor plants and biophilia to a new area of remote workers. Launching in June 2020, a percentage of sales of Gromeo will go to support the practice and research of Horticulture Therapy and its positive impact on mental health.
Materials & Ingredients
Our end product is typically a conglomeration of many different products and materials to create and engineer a living wall system. The primary product is our proprietary geotextile growing medium called Growtex™ which is made from 100% recycled PET and manufactured in the United States. Other products include waterproofing, metal framing, polypropylene, irrigation valves/piping, stainless steel, wood, soil and much more. Many of our systems recirculate the water to help conserve every drop. We also strive to use reclaimed water sources when they have the most impact. For example, our living wall at the SFMOMA, we worked with Hyphae Design Lab in Oakland to engineer a system that uses the storm water and condensate water as our primary irrigation source.
Quality & Value
Appearance and functionality are very important, but durability and serviceability are just as vital when we are creating products and installations that should endure. We measure our success through the long term vibrancy and maturity of our unique increments of design – the plants – so researching and testing materials for long term sustainability is an invaluable part of our design process.
Aside from using local suppliers when possible, we also work with them to reuse some of the materials that would have been used just once. A couple examples are the cardboard boxes the plants are delivered in are then returned to the supplier so they can use them again and again. We also reuse nursery pots from our suppliers in our greenhouse. We use compost garbage bags for our plant debris, and we compost and recycle across all our facilities.
Local Supply Chains
We have built up a great network of local suppliers, fabricators and designers that are crucial to the success of our installations. Having a local supply chain is not only more sustainable in many ways, but also allows us to be more flexible and produces a better quality product, as we are able to interact with them face to face. Most of our nurseries are within 100-mile radius of where the project takes place. We also have our own greenhouse, which is mostly used as an interim greenhouse for our plants. We are starting to propagate our own plants and rehabilitate plants that don’t perform well on certain sites. Additionally, our latest product, Gromeo, is assembled entirely in house using local fabricators and vendors for just about all the materials.
Our operations are not energy intensive, and we are continually looking for how to reduce our use across our operations, such as swapping out old lighting for energy-efficient LED fixtures. No detail is too small.
It all adds up, but our greatest impact here is on our end product rather than our in-house practices. Yes, we recycle, compost, and our operations are mostly paperless, but the way we design our installations has the most impact on the environment. With any living installation, resources are still required; plants need water, light, nutrients and they look their best with some tender love and care (aka maintenance). All of those things require energy, so we dissect each one of them to see how we can deliver the highest quality product that is built to last and uses the least amount of energy and resources.
Goals & Aspirations
We are examining ways to affiliate with organizations or companies that champion sustainability through third-party validation. The shortlist includes formal affiliation with 1% for the Planet, B-Corporation, and Good Design for a Sustainable Future.
Certifications & Memberships
We are members of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the American Horticulture Association, which promote and prioritize sustainable building practices. We have worked on projects that have some of the highest sustainability ratings. Some include:
1) The first net-zero commercial office space in San Francisco for DPR Construction.
2) The first living building challenge project in California, the Arch/Nexus SAC. This intensive project required the most rigorous material requirements in the world. Each product we used had to be “red list vetted” meaning they could not exceed or contain certain amounts of chemicals.
ADDITIONAL READING & VIDEO LINKS
Metropolis Magazine: A Living Wall in Oakland, Called Urban Ecotones, Is Alive
San Francisco Business Times: This Bay Area company is making the top of the Salesforce Tower bloom
Meet Habitat Horticulture on Vimeo: