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Biophilic Design Benefits

Integrating Nature and Natural Elements into Buildings

Biophilic Design And the Resulting Benefits

The World Health Organization expects stress-related illness, such as mental health disorders and cardiovascular disease, to be the two largest contributors to disease by 2020.

A large contributor to this is the frenzied environment we live and work in, and and the resulting  inability to de-stress on a daily basis.

With a diminished connection to nature, the increasing pressure on urban space, and the ubiquitous technological presence and demand it places upon us,  we have less opportunity to de-stress and regenerate our mental and physical energy.

Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into the interior of buildings has been demonstrated through research to reduce stress, blood pressure levels, and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity, and self-reported rates of well-being.

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Therefore, incorporating elements of nature into the interior of buildings, called Biophilic design, has come to the forefront as a necessity for maximum health and productivity.

We need nature in a fundamental way, but over the past 250 years, we have designed our cities and interior spaces to not only damage the environment but further alienate us and remove us from nature.

Our cities are looking more and more ominously like scenes out of a science fiction movie.

So What Is Biophilia

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Biophilia is a term popularized by American psychologist Edward O Wilson in the 1980s when he observed how increasing rates of urbanization were leading to a disconnection with the natural world.

The whole concept of Biophilia (The love of nature and living things) connects us to the wider world and our innate desire to protect and nurture that which feeds us and does us good, both physically and also emotionally.

The term ‘biophilia’ means ‘love of life or living systems’, and even if we don’t necessarily think we as individuals appreciate nature, our environment actually has physical effects on our body, whether we are aware of it or not.  

Biophilia focuses on human’s innate attraction to nature and natural processes.  It suggests that we all have a genetic connection to the natural world built up through hundreds of thousands of years of living in agrarian settings.

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Large urban centers not only impact our environment but they also have a significant impact on the health of the people who live in and around them.

Research shows that when urbanites have regular contact with nature, it improves their health, leading to substantial reductions in financial costs for businesses.

We all know that creating aesthetically pleasing workspaces, through well-maintained and green buildings, and attractively landscaped grounds, is vital in helping to create a positive impression of your organization.

However, as important as the “image” may be, there are arguably more significant benefits to be gained by optimizing the environment in which your staff works on a daily basis.

Biophilic Design uses these ideas as principles to create a human-centered approach that when applied improves many of the spaces that we live and work in today, with numerous benefits to our health and well-being, and es, productivity.

There is much more to this trend than just aesthetics. There are many benefits to having plants and other biophilic elements in your work or home interior.

The Benefits Of Biophilic Design

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The benefits of biophilic design in the workplace include the following:

Live plants improve air-quality.

They do this by using carbon dioxide to produce oxygen.  They also transpire through their leaves, making the air more humid, which is excellent for combating the problem of dry-air, a widely reported problem in air-conditioned offices.

Additionally, plants absorb VOCs (volatile organic compounds) including those chemicals that are widely used in cleaning products, contained within some carpets, and emitted from electronics.

The most obvious way of bringing nature into our office spaces is through clever placement of plants, as this has been proven to make the air cleaner, reduce noise and generally create a more welcoming place to work.

Live plants make you more creative and productive.

The notion that access to good quality green and open space improves well-being and productivity at work is not a new concept.

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During the 19th Century industrial era, wealthy factory and mill owners would create parks to ensure their workforce had access to clean fresh air and places to relax when not working.

And this idea has evolved into the post-industrial age.

Today, this relationship between humans and nature, and the understanding of the essential human need to connect to a natural environment in the workplace is being taken increasingly seriously by architects, developers, and employers,urging the practice of incorporating nature into the built environment.

A series of studies has concluded that employees are at minimum 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces were filled with just a few indoor plants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are more efficient and more creative workers.

Live plants help relieve stress and improve mental well-being.

Stress is a known cause of both mental health disorders and cardiovascular diseases.  In Japan Shirin-Yoku (Forest Bathing), the practice of mindfully spending time in the forest, using all of your senses to appreciate nature, has been proven to combat stress, enhance mental wellness and bolster brain health.

Across Europe, research has shown that the simple presence of natural elements in the work environment can act as a buffer against the negative impact of job stress and positively impact general well-being.

Other studies have found that natural elements such as plants within an office space can prevent fatigue when completing tasks that demand high concentration or attention.

Studies also show that our ability to directly access nature can alleviate feelings of stress.  The millions of neural channels in our brain link to the human body’s nervous system. This system is comprised of two networks: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems.

The sympathetic system stimulates the human body when cognitive function is needed.  The parasympathetic system serves to relax the body and is used for internal processes such as digestion.  When the body’s natural balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic is achieved, the body is in the ideal state of homeostasis.

But in chaotic and stressful environments, like a busy office, the body’s sympathetic system is highly engaged in a “fight-or-flight” mindset.  Concurrently, the parasympathetic system is suppressed, disrupting our natural balance and resulting in energy drain and mental fatigue.

This combination induces stress, frustration, irritability, and distraction.  In contrast, human interaction with nature provides an increase in sympathetic activity.  This results in decreased stress and irritability and the increased ability to concentrate.

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Plants make us feel happier and healthier.

Not surprisingly, biophilic elements put us in a more positive frame of mind.  Positive people have a positive impact on others, take better care of themselves and are healthier.

Another point to consider here is that positive people are less likely to be off work sick, so if you are still on the fence about adding biophilic elements to your workspace, consider the impact it could have on reducing absenteeism in your office.

Similarly, the presence of natural elements is consistently associated with higher reported levels of happiness at work, in comparison to work environments where these are absent.

Biophilic design attracts and retains the best talent.

Prolonged exposure to urban environments leads to decreased productivity in the workplace, resulting in significant costs to businesses, annually.  Any solution to improve productivity in the workplace should result in decreased costs to businesses.

Absenteeism is a major driver of decreased productivity.  Offering employees regular biophilic opportunities in their daily lives decreases absenteeism and leads to reduced costs for businesses.

While we all appreciate a more pleasant environment, it may seem a luxury given the cost pressures on most organizations.  Certainly as urban environments, in particular, become ever more densely developed, green space per se is at a premium.

In spite of this, economic drivers are actually one of the main reasons for the growing interest in biophilic design, which is being understood as a sound economic investment into employees’ health, wellbeing and performance.  

Employers are placing greater emphasis on improving employee well-being in order to achieve greater productivity, retain staff and, ultimately, profit.

Having a thoughtfully designed, attractive workspace, full of natural light and biophilic elements sends a powerful message about your social conscience and green-credibility and that you care about your colleagues.

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We spend a large amount of time at work, and while we are there, we want it to be a positive experience.

Businesses at the vanguard of workplace design such as Apple, Google and Amazon are investing heavily in Biophilic Design elements.  These principles are shown to improve worker concentration, engagement, and cognitive ability but also to attract and retain staff in the “war for talent”.workplace

We tend to think of ‘nature’ as a commodity, somewhat separate from our lives in the modern world.  Really, nature was our home long before the grey concrete and brick walls we have grown used to.

Biophilic design is already becoming a guiding principle of the future, so it makes sense to get started now.

Many companies are introducing innovative schemes to the workplace, including features such as living walls, large indoor planting areas, and indoor trees in office spaces and break rooms.

We at Inside Plants offer a plethora of design options to help turn your ideas into a reality.  Large lobby or small office, we have designs that will enhance any space.

We also will provide the best care for your indoor plant selection.  Whether you seek indoor plant rentals, sales, and maintenance, or plant design, we’ve got the ideal solution!

Simply contact us today to find out how we can transform the look and functionality of your office space, and increase it’s healthy influence on our employees and clients.

Tags: biophilic design, bringing nature indoors, indoor plants, inside plants, increasing productivity, lowering stress

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