Every morning, lots of Okinawa morning glories are blooming on our balcony, and the green curtain is filling out. Unlike Edo morning glory plants, Okinawa morning glories are perennial. This year is the third summer we’ve had this deep blue flower. By noon, the flowers are already wilting.
Because of energy conservation, we haven’t used the air conditioning yet this year. Also, by not using the air conditioning, there’s more space for me to enjoy the balcony garden.
Recently I visited Suntory Midorie‘s showroom in Aoyama. The entrance vertical green wall with their company name was most impressive in terms of plant diversity and aesthetics. There are also about ten other designs showing the variety of looks they can create with wood frames and internal pump and watering system.
Suntory Midorie has created these indoor walls for offices, malls, cafes, airport lounges, and hair salons in Tokyo and Osaka. The systems use artificial planting material (half the weight of soil), hydroponic systems automated with pumps and timers, with water collecting at the base. The water drips from top to bottom once a week, and Suntory Midorie provides monthly maintenance to its corporate clients.
In addition to these framed walls, Suntory Midorie also makes a horizontal roof top system that’s been used by Mitsui on an office tower near the Imperial Palace to mitigate the heat island effect and lower air conditioning costs. Suntory Midorie has done some exterior green walls, for a cafe, a hotel pool area, and a group of Shibuya vending machines.
A miniature system of small indoor frames, with no mechanical system, is sold online for residences and marketed as something young girls might enjoy taking care of. Suntory Midorie was founded in March 2008, and became independent of its beverage manufacturer parent company Suntory in April 2009.
From City Farmer‘s amazing blog, I found this photo and story about NTT Facilities‘ growing sweet potatoes on rooftops in Tokyo. This urban agriculture project makes use of wasted urban space, reduces the heat island effect, and provides local and safe food. Sweet potatoes apparently thrive in harsh sun and strong wind. The Agence France Presse story from November 5, 2008 says that NTT Facilities hopes to take their “Green Potato” project to other Tokyo office buildings and nation-wide to schools.
What prevents other corporations from implementing rooftop agriculture? Is it know-how or cost? There should be some savings by reducing air-conditioning costs (and carbon emissions), and also an opportunity to give office workers opportunities to work together and learn more about how food is grown.