Office Building Main Level Live Wall – Mankato Minnesota

An Automated Living Wall Ecosystem

For this project the goal was to create a very welcoming entry to the space and to showcase the green and sustainable environment that they intended the space to be. So we made an Aquarium that is capable of changing its own water and pumping that nutrient rich water to the living wall of plants. Not a single drop of water goes to the drain.


Hubbard Building – Mankato, Minnesota

Energy efficiency and Automation

When creating an aquatic environment there is frequently a great deal of power used for pumps and filters and lighting. All of the pumps we chose use DC current and about a third the power of a comparable AC pump. All LED lighting is controllable and simulates a full day’s cycle from sunrise to sunset. Twice a week a timer turns on the pump to water the wall with waste water and a float valve refills the aquarium. Hands off and low maintenance for the client.  

Aquascape / Environment

The aquarium was designed as a river biotope to try to act as an analog for the local abundance of rivers. All of the return water is pumped in on one end and overflows into the filter on the other. The fish produce Nitrate through their eating, breathing, and waste and then that gets sent to the plants as fertilizer. Showing how this same method could be used to clean rivers and other bodies of water in nature.

System Function

The 6 foot long 125 gallon aquarium sits on a custom made stand with a canopy. In the stand is another 55 gallon aquarium to provide a reservoir for filtration and pumping to plants. A 40 watt DC controllable pump runs the return water to the aquarium and a separate 40 watt DC pump turns on via timer to feed the wall. A float valve hooked to an RO unit provides automatic top off for watering and evaporation. 2 6 foot long LED lights and a background light provide many interesting effects to the aquarium including lightning, cloud cover, and sunrise/sunset. 4 Kessil plant growing spotlights illuminate the wall for growth of the plants.


A successful project still doing well after a few years. This project shows the long term viability of living walls and with proper design and proper maintenance they should be able to last a for years to come.

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