Cutting indoor plants is unlikely to save money

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” ~ Henry Ford

With many organisations having to cope with new operational challenges, management teams are under increasing pressure to improve income streams and to reduce expenditure. Cutting indoor plants from the budget may look like an easy solution when balancing the numbers - tread cautiously however, this short term saving could well prove to be an expensive mistake.

The modern studies by many professionals in their field show that indoor plants are no longer a mere luxury. These studies show that plants play a far more important role in the semi-enclosed office environment than originally understood. Indoor plants significantly improve both the physiological and psychological well-being of occupants in a number of different ways.

  • Removing pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzene from the air.
  • Improving staff morale and feelings of well-being
  • Reducing stress and stress related illness and absenteeism 
  • The prevention of sick building syndrome

In one of the authoritative studies, Margaret Burchette and a team from the University of Technology (UTS) in Sydney, published a report which covered the effect of indoor plants on air quality within an indoor environment. The aim of their investigation was to analyse the extent to which the presence of indoor plants would improve the quality of the air and also create a sense of psychological well-being.

The UTS study showed that where plants were present, a 40-60% reduction in negative moods was evident. In another control group, with no plants present, stress levels rose by 20%. The researchers measured levels of anger; anxiety; depression; confusion; fatigue and stress, which were all found to be lower in the study group where plants were present.

In addition to the improved mental well-being of office occupants, the UTS study, like the other studies undertaken by teams from NASA, found that plants played an essential role in reducing the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and also lowered carbon dioxide levels. VOC’s are ever present in an office environment in the form of vapour emitted from office furnishings; adhesives; paint products and numerous other sources. With indoor plants offering a natural solution to this indoor pollution, it makes good sense to use their ability to the fullest.

The studies by UTS; NASA and others such as that of Dr Edward F. Group, give unequivocal support to the ability of indoor plants to remove airborne toxins from the air that we breathe. Dr Group, author of many authoritative publications and chairman of the Global Healing Centre in Houston, Texas, supports the conclusions of these scientific studies. Group states that indoor air pollution has become a serious problem and that stagnant or recycled air inundates occupants with a concentration of pollution that negatively impacts the respiratory system.

There can be no denying that it’s tough out there - whether it’s operational performance that is under pressure or increased competitive activity in a difficult economy - managers are faced with new challenges on a daily basis. Considering that indoor plants have a proven ability to help ensure one’s human resource assets are operating at optimum performance levels, it would be a brave and potentially expensive decision to cut these from the annual budget.

Courtesy: Interior Plantscapers Association