The Biophilia theory suggests that we have an innate connection to all living things. The introduction of natural elements into our working environment creates positive, measurable effects that enhance our daily work lives. Do plants matter? Emphatically, yes. Living plants create an enhanced feeling of health and well being, improving efficiency, performance and productivity in the workplace.
Do I have Sick Building Syndrome?
Sick building syndrome is a phrase coined by the WHO (World Health Organization) in 1984. It refers to a series of comfort and health complaints that relate to time spent inside a "sick building". Symptoms include; headache; nausea; rash; eye, nose and throat irritations; asthma and other respiratory concerns. These ailments are commonly caused by airborne contaminants found within our enclosed building environments.
All plants have the unique ability to clean the air you breathe. Many studies since the 1970's have proven and expanded upon this. Within the confines of tightly constructed buildings, the indoor air is polluted with toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene (found in office products, cleaners, fibres, adhesives, etc.) and other VOCs. Plants, however, trap and dispose of these airborne particles, improving the quality of your indoor air.
Photosynthesis is the natural process of converting sunlight into chemical energy (sugars) for plant growth. During this process, the plant absorbs and removes carbon dioxide along with volatile organic compounds from the air. The simple addition of one plant or more per 100 square feet cleans the air you breathe and is a cost effective and significant strategy in the battle against airborne toxins.
Health & Well-being
Your surrounding environment affects your health more than you think. Out of necessity, we are forced to spend many hours in urban, concrete spaces that offer little in the way of natural serenity. Stress, fatigue and low productivity and performance are the by-products of these conditions.
Fortunately, our innate attraction to nature is designed as a healing mechanism to reduce stress and illness, creating an overall sense of wellbeing. We don't always have the luxury of spending time in an outdoor natural setting. However, we do have the ability to create living green spaces in our indoor environments that generate the many positive affects of being in nature.
Several studies exists that confirm the real and perceived benefits of having plants present in our everyday lives. They make us feel happy; increase our energy and vitality, creating a more positive outlook; and they increase productivity and focus. Also, a remarkable 23% decrease in health complaints is cited after the installation of foliage plants. This direct relationship confirms the fact that plants do make us healthier, happier and more productive. Read more about the positive affects of plants at work here.
Productivity & Cost Savings
As we've seen, the main benefits of plants include increased feelings of wellness; higher productivity and focus; and happier and healthier employees. This inevitably leads to fewer sick days, higher work production per employee and therefore, reduced payroll costs. A recent study shows that having live plants in the workplace increases productivity by 15%. When your employees' perception of their workplace is positive, they feel more valuable and appreciated, and your cost of attrition goes down.
With the addition of plants, commercial buildings immediately project a positive, high-end, trusted perception of their operation. These assessments are not merely conceptual, but provide solid improvements in occupancy rates, lease rates and property values.
Cost effective solutions for the commercial environment must include energy efficiency and building operating costs. The inclusion of live, tropical plants, including living (or green) walls increases humidity levels, reducing energy requirements for heating indoor spaces. Additionally, indoor plants naturally reduce air temperature, creating more efficient energy requirements during summer months.
The cost and functional benefits of green walls, as outlined in "Green Walls in Office Design: What are the Benefits?", are abundant. This is a rapidly growing design trend, and the benefits far outweigh any suggestion that green wall designs are a fad. New and exciting ways to incorporate them into our corporate and commercial environments continue to develop. Green walls are much more than environmental miracles. They are works of art, reflecting and enhancing corporate brands with imbedded company logos and creative, innovative designs.
When looking for cost effective ways to improve the efficiency and wellbeing of your operation, nothing is as effective (dollar for dollar) as the addition of a well designed plantscape.