The Solar Decathlon places 20 university teams from around the world against each other to see who can design, build, and operate the most energy-efficient, solar-powered and good looking home. http://www.solardecathlon.org/ While I was there for the 2009 competition (without my camera, d'oh!), these pics are from the 2007 competition. I loved the German entry (lower picture), and apparently team Germany outdid themselves again this year, earning 1st place for their design. I also LOVED the living walls installed on the top picture. Beauty and function all in one place! The living wall helps keep the home cool in the summer, and insulates during the winter.
PNC bank recently installed a 2,380 square foot living wall at their headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. They even sourced all the plants locally, and used many native plants in the design. Engineering comes into play when you have a 24 ton living wall attached to your building, but many smaller versions can be installed on the side of a garage or shed quite easily. Some companies are now offering modular systems that make it even easier. http://www.greenroofplants.com/ or http://www.greengridroofs.com/Whenever doing a major project on your home, it is always a good idea to check and see if any permitting is required...usually attainable by working with a local contractor or landscape contractor. Who will be the first garden center to incorporate a living wall into their operation? The race is on!