The Benefits of Indoor Plants
You don't have to be an environmental psychologist to understand that plants look attractive. But dig a little deeper and you'll discover that the benefits of indoor plants go far beyond their aesthetic appeal.
Most people seem to have a firm connection with flowers, plants and trees, which is why we like to have them in our homes. The Biophilia hypothesis – which suggests that we have a connection with and love of nature - is just as true when we’re at work.
Recent research has shown that indoor plants are good for buildings and people in a variety of subtle ways. Interior landscaping plays a vital role in providing a pleasant and tranquil environment in which to move, work or relax.
Indoor plants have the proven ability to:
- Enhance interiors and brand image and improve visitor perceptions
- Improve workplace efficiency
- Reduce noise levels
- Improve air quality
- Help people find their way around buildings and large spaces
- Reduce dust levels
- Increase customer spend
Plants help reduce stress and create a feeling of well-being
Most of us know instinctively that being close to greenery makes us feel more at ease with our surroundings. We experience less stress when there are plants around us. Office plants ensure buildings are quieter and more relaxed but, at the same time, more stimulating and interesting. A substantial body of academic research has shown conclusively that interior landscaping has dramatic effects on the well-being of building occupants.
People in offices are more productive, take fewer sick days, make fewer mistakes and are happier when their environment is enhanced by indoor plants. Patients in hospitals benefit greatly from being more in touch with nature and there is even some evidence to show that students perform better when the ambience of the learning environment is improved.
Here are some more ways that office plants can help:
- Alternatives to manufactured/engineered solutions to building problems
- Reducing demand on the water supply
- Improvements in indoor air quality
- Noise reduction
- Alleviation of Sick Building Syndrome and improvements in well-being
Plant displays are usually significantly cheaper than manufactured items, employ fewer resources in their establishment and can fulfill more than one function.
Indoor plant displays can be especially useful as space design and management aids in commercial buildings, as they form natural screens and partitions, ideal in open plan settings. They help guide people around a space, whilst at the same time reducing noise, collecting dust, humidifying the air and removing some pollutants.
Rain water is a free resource which can be collected from the roofs of commercial buildings and used to water interior and exterior plant displays.
Grey water (water that's already been used once, for instance to wash hands or dishes), once treated and recycled for re-use where drinking quality is not required, can also be used to water plants.
Additionally, interior and exterior plant displays can be fitted with water-efficient subterranean irrigation systems and planted with species which have a low water requirement.
One of the benefits of plants is that they help cool the air around them through the process of evapotranspiration (the movement of water from the soil, through the plant and into the atmosphere).
Large indoor plants are also very good reducing temperature through shading. Both of these benefits are especially effective in tall buildings where atrium planting is often employed to help with temperature regulation.
Research carried out in the USA has demonstrated that office plants attract more than their fair share of dust. Particulate levels (including airborne spores) can be reduced by as much as 20% in some situations. This could lead to a reduction in the use of air cleaners (although not their replacement) and an improvement in indoor air quality.
There is also a body of recent research from Australia and the USA that shows that indoor plants are effective at removing a range of pollutants at relatively low planting densities in real office situations.
Ambius’ own research studies and those conducted by Peter Costa of South Bank University in London have demonstrated that office plants can be effective at reducing background noise. Species selection and positioning are crucial to achieve these effects.
Studies in Europe have shown that health complaints at work and symptoms associated with Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) can be dramatically reduced with the addition of good indoor plant displays.
Office buildings with large floor areas and deep plans (e.g. low and wide buildings) are seldom 'green' buildings as they can be difficult to ventilate naturally and there is limited access to natural light and views.
Good interior landscaping can give people access to an indoor garden or views of vegetation, especially if there is an atrium or other large space, and the combination of indoor plants and artificial daylight can help overcome the problems of lack of access to natural daylight.
Find out more about how to make your building ‘greener’, by visiting the South African Green Building Council.
Make your workplace a happier, more productive environment with office plants from Ambius. Call us now on 0800 AMBIUS (0800 262 487) or contact us online.
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