Office Design to Benefit from Learned Hospital Lessons

“I don’t divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one.” ~ Luis Barragan – Architect.

Considering the emphasis that is placed on risk management in the business environment, it would be potentially dangerous to ignore the evidence which proves that indoor plants help create a healthy work environment.

Sick Building Syndrome and MCS

According to the NASA report, the presence of indoor plants will filter the air and remove up to 87% of the toxins commonly trapped in the sealed environment. Without any means of effective cleansing, these linger and are breathed in by the occupants. The presence of these toxins is often the cause of many ailments, collectively referred to as Sick Building Syndrome or MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

Dr Edward F. Group, author of many authoritative publications and chairman of the Global Healing Centre in Houston, Texas, supports the conclusions of these scientific studies when he states that indoor air pollution has become a serious problem. He refers to the trend that emerged during the energy crisis of the 1970’s, to seal homes and office buildings in order to save energy. In his report, Dr Group states that stagnant or recycled air inundates the occupants with a concentration of pollution that negatively impacts the respiratory system.

Dr Group’s report is supported by many other studies, including those undertaken by Professor B. C. Wolverton of NASA and Professor Tøve Fjeld of the University of Norway. These give unequivocal support to the ability of indoor plants to remove air borne toxins from the air that we breathe.

VOC’s are emitted from numerous sources, building materials, adhesives and office furniture. Carpets and cleaning materials are also a common source of VOC’s such as benzene, formaldehyde and other proven irritants. With the many studies confirming that indoor plants offer a low-cost solution to these toxins, it would be remiss not to include these during the design planning process.

Dr Group lists the most common symptoms as headaches; eye and skin irritation and non-specific upper respiratory symptoms. He says that pollutants such as dust, VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), bacteria and other harmful organisms and vapours can all produce adverse effects.

With the many studies now confirming that indoor plants promote a healthier and more productive environment, we should capitalize on the opportunity their presence offers us. By including plants into the spatial design, the many risks associated with the modern sealed environment will be reduced in both a practical and pleasing manner.

Courtesy: Interior Plantscapers Association