Factory's plan to cover 140 metre wall in vines

Growing: Interface's Aiden Mullan and the wall covered in vines. Picture: Tim Pickles
Growing: Interface's Aiden Mullan and the wall covered in vines. Picture: Tim Pickles

When it comes to greenery, Minto-based company Interface means business.

The company’s sustainability and lean manager Aiden Mullan contacted the owner of Tim’s Garden Centre, Tim Pickles, twelve months ago about the possibility of growing a giant vine on the biggest wall of the factory – about 140 metres long.

Rather than having a bare concrete wall that made the factory and the surrounding area hotter, the vine would actually absorb the heat.

“Air conditioners are big energy guzzlers so the idea was to use nature to solve the problem,” he said. “This will do two things for us, keep the factory cool in the summer (when in full bloom) and in winter it will be warmer (when the leaves fall off).”

About 80 Boston ivy vines were planted by Interface employees last year.

Mr Pickles lauded the initiative and said it was a concept other businesses should emulate.

“It’s a massive factory all made of concrete and the biggest wall (where the vines are planted) faces west,” he said. “When the factory heats up during the day it also heats up Macarthur. The vine has grown so quickly – up to five metres in nine months.

“In two or three years it will cover that whole wall – it already looks so much better.

“I think we should be using this plant more in developments. It cools the buildings down in summer, has spectacular foliage in autumn and then the leaves drop to allow the winter sun to warm the building.

“This hardy vine can turn buildings into living art. It’s so simple, it just makes sense.”

Vine wall: Enzo Italian Restaurant in Camden is covered in vines.

Vine wall: Enzo Italian Restaurant in Camden is covered in vines.

With Project Vine in full swing, Mr Mullan has now started looking at other sections of the site that could also benefit from a much-needed injection of green.

He has floated the idea of growing hops on the water tank which could eventually be used to create a tasty batch of beer.

The car park – which he described as “one big concrete mass” – was also in his sights.

“There would be a little bit of engineering involved but we want to see if we can hang cables and wires over the car park where we could suspend vines from,” he said.

Campbelltown Council recently releases its vision to make Campbelltown CBD the greenest in Australia by encouraging green walls and green roofs on apartment buildings.

A Boston ivy vine.

A Boston ivy vine.

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