January 24, 2013 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Anticipating rising energy costs after Japan’s nuclear disaster, and inspired by the green curtains on the facades of many municipal and commercial buildings, many Tokyo residents have created DIY living curtains of climbing plants to shade their own windows and balconies.
Growing Energy-Saving Trend
Like flowing drapes of vines over a building’s windows, a green curtain offers an insulating effect similar to that of a green wall, saving energy by providing natural shade and cooling through water evaporation on the foliage, which also reduces CO2 emissions.
A number of Japanese companies, including Hitachi and Kyocera, have installed green curtains at their corporate or manufacturing facilities, with many other businesses following suit. Six years ago, in response to the Green Curtain Project in city of Okaya, Kyocera created green curtains on the exterior walls of five of their manufacturing facilities.
Decorative and Edible
In addition to providing energy savings, the Kyocera green curtains provided food. From climbing plants, such as morning glory and goya (bitter gourd), the company harvested goya vegetables which they served in their cafeterias and distributed free of charge to employees.
Urban homeowner’s green curtain with plump Goya (bitter okinawian gourd). Photo: Jacob Schere, Flickr.
How to Make Your Own Green Curtain
If you’re crafty, with a few ingredients and implements, you can make your own.