The benefits of plants go far beyond the aesthetic. We have a firm connection with flowers, plants, and trees, which is why we like to have them in our homes. This Biophilia hypothesis (which suggests that we have a connection and love of nature) is just as true when we’re at work.
Recent research tells us that interior 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. Office plants have even been shown to reduce staff sickness and increase productivity.
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 interior plants are also very good at 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.
Particulate levels 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 interior plants are effective at removing a range of pollutants at relatively low planting densities in real office situations.
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.
Good interior landscaping gives people access to an indoor garden or views of foliage, especially if there is an atrium or other large space, and the combination of plants and artificial daylight can help overcome the problems of lack of access to natural daylight.
Our company's own research studies and those conducted by Peter Costa of South Bank University in London have demonstrated that plants can be effective at reducing background noise. Species selection and positioning are crucial to achieving these effects.
Plant displays can be useful space management aids in 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, and removing some pollutants.
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. 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 wellbeing of building occupants.
Office plants make people more productive, take fewer sick days, make fewer mistakes and they are happier when their environment is enhanced by interior landscaping. 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.
Adding plants to your office creates an instant, welcoming impression on your guests and colleagues whilst also re-connecting employees with nature.