A brief history of living walls.

Green Living Walls are becoming a more popular feature in both interior and exterior spaces all over the world, but the idea behind them is far from a design trend. The possible roots of the concept for this innovative method of plant display include an ancient wonder of the world and the concepts of a Midwestern professor. Here is a brief look at the history of green walls in the ancient and modern worlds.

The Ancient Inspiration for Vertical Living Walls

  Living WallsThough it may seem like a modern innovation, the concept of the vertical green walls stretches back through history, possibly to ancient times. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which some scholars say date back to 600 BC, are the first recorded mention of a vertical plant system with built-in irrigation.  In the descriptions that have survived of the garden, it was said to be a feat of engineering that includes multiple tiers of plants and flowers across the high brick walls. It was built by the King Nebuchadnezzar II to please his wife, who had moved from a lush green area to marry him. The Gardens are the only of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world that archaeologists cannot reliably give a location, though many locations in Iraq have been suggested as the possible home of the ancient garden. Though the mythical gardens may have been a work of fiction, they serve as inspiration for some of the most breathtaking green walls created by designers today.  

Stanley Hart White and The Invention of The Modern Green Wall

The modern green wall with hydroponic systems was developed in the 1930s. Stanley Hart White, a professor at the University of Illinois, developed an early version of the vertical living wall while experimenting in his backyard. He called his invention “Botanical Bricks” and took steps to patent the concept beginning in 1938. The ideas he outlined are still used as a framework for modern living green wall designers.

Patrick Blanc Creates Green Walls Worldwide

The most notable creator of green walls in the last two decades is Patrick Blanc, who was often credited with inventing the concept before Professor White’s work became well known. Blanc has created many innovative vertical plant walls in locations around the world and authored several books on tropical plants. Blanc follows a specific approach to ensure his vertical green walls are Patrick Blanc Creates Green Living Wallssustainable, in any climate. He begins with polyamide felt over a metal and PVC base. The felt emulates the properties of moss, creating a supportive environment for plants to take root. By soaking the felt in a nutrient solution that contains dissolved minerals, Blanc ensures the plants have what they need to grow, and any excess liquid is recirculated through to keep them healthy. Blanc is based in Paris but has created notable green walls in parks and buildings in major cities around the world, including The Lafayette Galleries in Berlin, Sydney’s Central Park, and the French Embassy in New Delhi. Today, living green walls can be incorporated into many different kinds of settings, including in office buildings, shopping centers, and even homes. If you want to set up a living green wall in your home or business, Plant Solutions can help. Contact us at 480.585.8501 for help with the design, engineering, and installation of your living green wall.
Arizona indoor landscaping

How Most Companies Are Using Interior Landscaping to Support Wellness Programs

An employee wellness plan is a great way to keep workers healthy while reducing the number of medical costs an employer incurs. Wellness programs may have started with simple initiatives like health tests and screening for common diseases, however, modern programs include more innovative components, like health and fitness classes which help keep employees in good shape and interior landscaping to lower employee stress levels. Here are some popular ways that leading companies use indoor landscaping to promote wellness in the workplace and keep employees as healthy as possible.

Create Quiet Spaces for Relaxation and Reflection

High-stress environments, where employees are pressured to get large volumes of work done, suffer from high turnover rates. Employees can’t always keep up with the stress and leave for an environment that doesn’t cause so much anxiety. This ongoing need to recruit and train new workers is costly fArizona interior landscapingor the employer and frustrating for management. Retaining employees, especially those that perform well, is well worth the effort it takes on the employer’s part.


Creating green spaces, where employees can take a break during the workday, can help lower stress and create higher levels of creativity. Depending on the spaces available onsite, employers can create an atrium or courtyard to feature living plants or when conditions are not ideal use artificial plants, which mimic the effect of living foliage. These spaces use artificial plants, which mimic the effect of living foliage. It helps an employee’s morale knowing there is a wellness space where they can relax and de-stress if even for just a few minutes. Including living plants in these spaces, brings health benefits, such as cleaner indoor air. These may seem like small measures but combined, they can be enough to help keep employees from becoming overstressed, or burned out, leading them to seek other employment.

Include Natural Light Sources Wherever Possible

Interior landscaping is more than just placing plants in an office space. A skilled interior landscaping company will work with you from the design stages to ensure that the important components for the continued health of the plants are put in place from the beginning. Proper lighting levels and the Incorporation of natural light into your commercial space will help the plants flourish, thereby benefiting employee health. Fluorescent lighting is harsh, particularly after eight hours or more of sitting in a room lit by these bulbs. Headaches, difficulty sleeping, increased anxiety, and eye strain can all be caused by overexposure to fluorescent light.

Hold Team Building Activities in A Relaxing Space That Features Plants

Creating a team atmosphere among your employees should be part of your wellness program. Activities that bring people together in a relaxing space can help employees build a feeling of team spirit while simultaneously reducing stress levels. The perfect indoor landscaping will help these activities to be successful by putting team members in the right mind frame. Holding team building sessions where plants and colors are featured will lower employees blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stimulating creative energy.

Arizona interior landscaping

Interior landscaping can play a vital part in your employee wellness program, but only if you partner with an experienced interior landscape service to ensure that the plants and other components are well thought out and cared for. Plant Solutions has experience with helping employers of all sizes create commercial spaces that encourage better health and wellness. Contact us at 480.585.8501 to find out more about how we can help you.

How you can apply the principles of biophilic design to your office space

How you can apply the principles of biophilic design to your office space

Designing an office space that promotes health and wellness might not be at the forefront of your mind, but there are good reasons to consider how your office space makes your employees feel. Incorporating natural elements as the central focus points of your design can minimize the number of sick days your employees take, increase productivity and even decrease employee turnover. People naturally enjoy coming to work in a calming environment that promotes well being and good health. This can translate to thousands of dollars saved over the course of a year for a larger organization with many employees on site.

Simple Ways To Complement a Biophilic Design

A biophilic interior design is one that incorporates natural elements as central parts of the design to help employees feel connected with nature. Check out our recent blog on How To Incorporate Indoor Landscaping Into Your Designs to find out more about what biophilia is and what the principles of biophilic design are. Keeping these elements in mind as you plan your commercial space can influence many aspects of the building process, including placement of key elements like windows, light fixtures and how plumbing systems will be put into power water features or feed plants

Incorporating a Living Green Wall Into Your Office

One of the best ways to incorporate plants in a visually striking way within a commercial space is a living green wall. This is a garden that grows vertically along a portion of a wall or the full surface of a wall. A living green wall creates a large focal point and allows for a lot of plant life to be incorporated into a small space. When incorporated into a communal space, like a break room or entryway, the green wall can be enjoyed by any employee at their convenience.

Simple Ways To Complement a Biophilic Design 

There are several small ways to complement the larger biophilic elements you incorporate, including:

Incorporating a Living Green Wall Into Your Office

Incorporating white noise into the office allows your employees to block out interoffice chatter and focus on the natural elements in the space. A densely populated office space can get noisy very fast, which can irritate and distract your employees. This is especially true in open-plan office spaces, a kind of design that is seeing a surge in popularity across the country. These designs purposely include communal spaces to encourage collaboration. While these kinds of offices are seen to encourage creativity and team building, they can also result in increased noise levels. Studies have shown that noise based distractions can cause workers to lose up to 86 minutes worth of productivity each day. By piping in white noise, which mimics the sound of natural airflow, you can minimize distraction and encourage employees to immerse themselves in the natural elements you provide.

Choose textiles and décor elements that play into a natural theme. Select wall and floor colors inspired by colors in nature, like the neutral beige of a sandy beach, the deep blue of an ocean wave or the vibrant green of a thriving forest. Choose natural textiles, like bamboo, raffia, and cotton, wherever possible to encourage employees to feel immersed in nature. You can also choose artwork that features natural landscapes for important focal points inside the office space.

Keep windows and other glass surfaces clean to allow as much natural light as possible to come through. This is especially key in winter months when many office workers spend the scant daylight hours indoors and are greeted by darkness shortly after they leave work.

As an experienced indoor landscaping company, Plant Solutions can assist with incorporating biophilia into your office space. Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you create a biophilic design that your employees will enjoy.

Tips for making Interior renovation more plant-focused

Tips for making Interior renovation more plant-focused

A key part of modernizing any project is including natural elements to create a smooth transition from outside to inside and bring certain calming elements from nature to the inside space. Regardless of whether you’re renovating a home or workspace, including more plants is a great way to make your surroundings feel lighter and brighter. The inclusion of plants also helps occupants feel more at ease and stay healthier. Plants can naturally improve the indoor air quality and by being around them, it can relieve stressful feelings.

Despite the advantages that plants bring to an indoor space, some interior designers shy from including plant life in their designs. Including plants in a design may seem confusing for designers or architects without a lot of knowledge about plants, however, it can be easier than it seems. Here are some tips to make it easier to include more plants in your next renovation design.

Consider Using an Indoor Plant Design and Maintenance ServiceConsider Using an Indoor Plant Design and Maintenance Service

Home and office designs that include many plants can be held back due to an anticipated fear of ongoing maintenance. The building or homeowner might have reservations about how difficult it might be to keep the plants alive and thriving or replace them if they die. The simplest way to ensure that the interior continues to flourish is to plan on the use of an indoor plant maintenance service. Similar to using a landscaping service, this service handles care and maintenance of plants inside the building space. Regular visits from a Phoenix plant service can be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on how often care is needed. They will monitor the condition of the plants, alert the appropriate person to any plants that may be developing issues and assist with replacing any plants that may be sick or dying. This allows the owner to have the best of both worlds. They can have the enjoyable aspects of a design that includes plants, without having to take on the responsibility of caring for them.

Include Interior Plant Design in Your Plans

Planning to include plants in your renovation from the outset is the best way to ensure success in the finished product. This can mean partnering with an indoor landscaping or “plantscaping service to get expert advice on where to include plants and what components should be built into the home or office to keep the plants healthy. Planning will allow you to determine the best locations for your plants. You can include built-in planters and shelves that will allow plants to integrate with the design. Planning also allows you to integrate the technical elements that will keep plant life growing as time goes on. If irrigation or plumbing is required to keep plants healthy, it can be included in your renovation plans from the outset.

Redefine What You Consider to Be Office Plants

Redefine What You Consider to Be Office PlantsIf you are working on an office renovation, don’t limit yourself based on what plants you think will be easiest to include. There was a time that only certain plants were considered in office design due to their hardiness and low maintenance traits. With the advances of technology and the wide range of hybrid plant types now available, there are many more possibilities on the market and many different ways to highlight them within an interior design.

Plants no longer have to simply sit in planters and pots on the floor around the office space or directly in the window. With proper planning and execution, plants can a stunning visual feature. If the plant you have in mind as inspiration isn’t right for this particular project, an indoor landscaping expert may be able to suggest another variety that gives the same look and has a better chance of surviving, so you still get the visual effect you want.

Plant Solutions can help you design, plan, and install any kinds of plants you may want to include in your indoor renovation project, whether it is a residential or commercial space. Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you with your renovation.

Bring The Tranquility and Serenity of Nature Inside

If you find yourself struggling to find balance in daily life, more time spent in the great outdoors can be just what you need. Feeling the warmth of the sun on your face and breathing in the smells of the forest can instantly make you feel far away from the problems and stress of real life, which scientists say can make a measurable difference in your health. Certain features in nature are proven to have a positive effect on your mental and physical well being. But for many people, it can be challenging to find the time to spend in nature. That’s why bringing certain outdoor elements into a residential or commercial space can be a great way to strike a happy medium.

What Are The Positive Effects of Nature on The Human Mind and Body?

What Are The Positive Effects of Nature on The Human Mind and Body?

Research shows that spending time in nature can have multiple benefits for the mind and body. Three of the key benefits research has identified are:

  • Better mental health, including less anxiety and reduced symptoms of depression. Spending time in nature allows you to focus on something outside of your daily concerns and stresses, which can have a surprisingly positive effect. A beautiful green forest or shimmering blue lake can be interesting enough for you to put your phone down and detach from whatever is going on in your regular life.
  • Better heart health. Walking in nature can reduce cortisol and blood pressure levels, both of which are key factors in how healthy your heart is and your risk for future disease.
  • Better respiratory health. Plants produce more clean air for you to breathe, which is better for your health than breathing re-circulated air the way you do in the indoor space.

How To Bring The Outdoors Inside

The simple fact is that most people have too much going on in their day to day lives to make time to go wander in the woods each day. But there are ways to bring some of the tranquility and serenity that nature inspires into an interior space, whether it is your residence or an office space.

Create an immersive space or focal point

Anything you can do to forget that you are indoors while taking in the natural elements will help you reap the positive effects. If you have enough square footage available to create a natural space, sunroom or even a reading corner surrounded by plants, it can end up being your favorite space in the home. The same principle holds true in commercial spaces. Both visitors and people who work in the building will appreciate a quiet, nature-centric space where they can gather their thoughts.

Incorporate multi-sensory elements

Incorporate multi-sensory elementsWhen you are actually out in nature, there are many sensory components that your body is taking in all at once. In addition to observing the elements of nature with your eyes, you also hear the sounds of birds chirping or water crashing against a shore and smell the fresh scents of plants and flowers. Indoors, there are easy ways to bring multi-sensory elements in, from playing nature-inspired sounds to incorporate nature-inspired smells.

Plan before you begin

Planning is key to keeping natural elements looking great over time and making them as maintenance free as possible for you. The best way to guarantee success from the outset is incorporating the right elements, like proper lighting and irrigation with the help of an experienced indoor landscaping service. Plant Solutions can

As an experienced indoor landscaping company, Plant Solutions can assist with finding the right ways to incorporate nature into your home or business and truly bring more serenity to your life. Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you.

Connect People With Nature Through Biophilic Design

Connect People With Nature Through Biophilic Design

Indoor spaces that include elements from nature, like plants, water features, and natural light, offer many advantages for residents or employees. Biophilic design is the name given to interior designs that feature natural elements to help people feel connected with nature, even on the indoors. Biophilia, a concept first made popular as a hypothesis some thirty years ago, is a concept that is found at the heart of some of the most stunning and effective interior designs in the world. People instinctually seek the features of nature, which our bodies were accustomed to living in for many thousands of years. Now that life is conducted mostly indoors, people can feel disconnected from nature, which can lead to depression. High levels of stress and lack of vitamin D are just two of the issues that can arise as the result of lack of interaction with nature. Biophilic design helps to restore the balance by bringing certain natural elements inside, helping people feel healthier and more energetic.

How Do You Create a Biophilic Design?How Do You Create a Biophilic Design?

Incorporating elements from nature into interior design means bringing some of nature’s best features inside and allowing them to shine in their own way. This means planning is key to making the design work. At Plant Solutions, we partner with designers and builders to ensure any design that includes plants, a living green wall or a water feature has the necessary structural elements behind it to keep it working properly over the long term. Our team draws on years of experience to make each interior design unique and breathtaking.

The Psychological Benefits of Incorporating Natural Elements into Your Designs

Research has shown that just painting the color green on an interior wall inspires calm as it suggests the tranquility of nature. Bringing actual green plants inside takes this suggestion further by mimicking the outdoor environment. Whether they are natural or artificial, being around plants on a regular basis has been shown to have many benefits for people, including:

  • Better and cleaner indoor air
  • Lower stress levels
  • Higher productivity
  • Lower humidity levels

Tips For Making Biophilic Design Work In Any Situation

Tips For Making Biophilic Design Work In Any SituationSome home and business owners are reluctant to include biophilic elements into indoor designs because they anticipate a need for maintenance and care over the years. If you yearn to include natural elements but worry about them getting the care they deserve down the line, here are some easy ways to solve this problem:

Choose low maintenance plants that require minimal watering and trimming. For example, succulents are a great choice to give a small touch of fresh greenery in any room, they take up very little room and their signature tightly packed leaves are visually interesting.

Hire an indoor plant maintenance service to take care of the plants for you. This allows you to have all the benefits of live plants without having to lift a finger and can be much more affordable than you realize.

Select artificial plants to give the suggestion of nature without any of the work. High-quality silk plants look convincingly like the real thing and only need to be dusted occasionally.

As an experienced indoor landscaping company, Plant Solutions can assist with every aspect of including plants in your latest interior design. Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you.

Everything You Need to Know About Vertical Green Walls

Vertical Green WallsIf you’ve seen green walls used in other innovative spaces, you already know how striking and beautiful these elements can be. Bringing in a large element that incorporates nature can break up the monotony of a corporate building that doesn’t have many windows or a lush green space right outside the window. It can also help to set a home apart from all of the others in the neighborhood. Regardless of whether your next project is a commercial or residential space, including a green wall, can be beneficial in many ways. Incorporating vertical living walls into your designs might seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. While a vertical garden might sound like a hard thing to build and maintain, the process can be much simpler than you may realize, especially if you incorporate this element into your plans from the start. The visual impact and physical benefits a green wall system can bring to a space are unparalleled by any artificially created design accent. Read on to learn more about how a vertical living wall works and what it takes to keep one thriving.

What is a Living Wall?

A living wall is a design feature that incorporates plants that grow vertically into a wall. This creates the visual effect of an immersive green space to add a touch of nature on the inside. The living wall can take up the entire surface of a wall, or just a section that acts as a design accent. In order to be successful, each living wall should be custom designed to suit the individual project and carefully planned. The plants are chosen to fill the spaces in the wall without spreading too far and ruining the visual effect. They also have to be species that are hardier. A plant wall can be placed inside a commercial or residential space, thanks to the design that allows it to require only minimal maintenance. With proper maintenance and care, a plant wall can continue to add a touch of nature to any space for years to come. Plant walls have existed in some form since the 1930s, but they are growing in popularity thanks to how much we now understand about the benefits they add to a space. Employers can expect to see increased productivity, better attitudes and reduced sick time from their employees when they incorporate plant life into their offices. Even in a residential space, natural elements can help the family feel healthier and improve the overall mood in the house. Another benefit of a green wall is that it is an eco-friendly way to reduce heating and cooling costs and make the home more efficient. The plants naturally help balance the temperature inside your home and can even improve the indoor air quality. This can reduce the amount of energy the home uses.  

How Does a Vertical Green Wall System Work?

A vertical green wall system is designed using the right species of plants to ensure they stay healthy over time and continue to stay lush and green. At Plant Solutions, we work on these projects from the start with the interior designer, architect or builder. Our team can design and create living walls to fit any open space that you want to turn into a living wall. This allows us to integrate any systems needed to keep the living wall healthy and operational, including: Indoor Landscaping
  • Wiring and electricity necessary to operate lighting accents
  • Irrigation, plumbing, and drainage
  • Internet-based controllers and sensors to keep the plants watered and healthy
We have developed living walls to highlight indoor spaces and make outdoor spaces look more sophisticated. Check out our gallery to see some of the living walls we have completed in the past. If you want to elevate your next design by incorporating a living wall, Plant Solutions can help with every aspect, from planning to installation! Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you.

How to Incorporate Indoor Landscaping Into Your Designs

As a professional, you likely already know the value of incorporating natural elements into your interior designs, whether they are for a residential or commercial space. People respond well to green plants and leafy trees in their indoor spaces, and incorporating these elements into an otherwise artificial environment can boost the mood of everyone who lives or works there. But there are practical concerns that come with incorporating living things into an interior design. If you hesitate to include live plants as part of your designs because you don’t know much about them, here are some easy ways to incorporate them without making the design process any more complicated and you can ensure a successful project by consulting a plant installation service from the beginning.

Let the Principles of Biophilia Be Your Guide

The concept of biophilia dates back to the 1980s when it was introduced by university professor and well-known sociologist Edward O. Wilson. Wilson defined biophilia as the human tendency to seek connections with nature and other kinds of life around us. He wrote that the current way of life, which has become so removed from nature, causes people to feel disconnected and yearn for a return to nature. Nowhere is this more evident to people than in the interior spaces where they live and work. Adding the vibrant green of a full fern or the pop of color of a tropical flower to a room can be enough to help the people who live there feel happier on an everyday basis. Windows that allow natural light to enter help people feel grounded and connected to the wider world.     Biophilic designs incorporate elements of nature, including:
  • Plants
  • Trees
  • Natural Light
  • Eco-friendly elements

Choose The Right Plants and Trees

Plant Solutions can help you select plants that are likely to flourish within the environment. High maintenance plants may not do well in an office environmentHigh maintenance plants may not do well in an office environment, where they can receive sporadic care. If you suspect that no one at the office will be tasked with indoor plant maintenance, it may be wise to include hardy plants that don’t require much special care, but we recommend a Phoenix interior plant service to help them keep the plants looking fresh and full.. Another option is to use a plant rental service to bring in plants that will stay looking fresh and healthy all of the time.

Place Natural Elements in Optimal Spots

As your vision comes together, reserving the right spots to allow plants to flourish is vital to keep green elements flourishing. Not only does a plant need the right amount of exposure to light, many plants need to live at the right temperature to stay healthy. This means that spots where air conditioning vents are blowing or doors that may allow cold gusts to come in might not be ideal for plants and trees. If you are unsure where to place certain plants in your interior plant design, consult with an indoor landscaping company to get help in understanding what each particular plant needs as you redesign and renovate your space.

Allow Space for Seasonal Elements

One of the core ideas behind the biophilic design is allowing the current state of natural elements to shine in indoor spaces. A design that incorporates a seasonal element better reflects the changing landscape outside. Leave spaces where seasonal plants or wreaths can help to remind people of the season and the colors that nature highlights during this time.

Partner With an Experienced Service

To ensure that the plants and trees incorporated into a room design are properly selected and cared for, it’s important to seek out the services of a qualified Indoor Landscaping company. Not only can we help you select the right plants to include; but also we can provide guidance about where to place them. Our team will also provide Interior Plant Maintenance to keep them looking great for years to come. Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you.

GPGB Cocktail Party Fundraiser

And the award goes to…

A highlight of the recent GPGB Cocktail Party Fundraiser held during Plantscape Expo August 14 was recognizing some star quality Registered Trainers for the most presentations given during the year. Mike Lewis, GPGB President, presented a plaque to three of its most productive GPGB Registered Trainers, celebrating their contribution to spreading the message of the benefits of indoor plants to the people responsible for building design and performance: Kathryn O’Donnell, Botanicus, New York; Joe Zazzera, Plant Solutions, Arizona; and, Jim Mumford Good Earth Plants & GreenScaped Buildings, California. Who are Registered Trainers? These Bronze-level plus GPGB Supporters have taken special training at one of GPGB’s Train the Trainer Seminars. As Zazzera explains, “GPGB’s Registered Trainer program has given me the tool I need to get in front of architects and specifiers. The fact that there is a CEU award for those participating in the program serves to enhance professionalism of the program, and gives me additional credibility as the ‘go-to’ guy for living walls and roofs in my area.” GPGB maintains status as an approved education provider with the AIA, ASID, USGBC, BOMI and ASLA. In 2012-2013, GPGB developed and received approval for its two newest presentations, Living Walls and Green Roofs. Mumford, one of the volunteers who helped create the new courses, is thrilled with the business his company is attracting. “In the past, when I attempted to have a conversation with an architect or landscape architect about indoor plants, they were rarely interested. Now that we have CEU programs about living walls and green roofs they are very interested. And of course, during the conversation I always sprinkle in something about indoor plants. I find that pointing out that we are experienced in growing plants in containers relates to growing plants on roofs and walls – differently shaped and configured, but containerized plants nonetheless.” GPGB’s most enthusiastic Registered Trainer is also one of its newest: Reaching over 60 building specifiers in a dozen presentations this year, O’Donnell explains how she got started: “I became a Registered Trainer in January 2013. Botanicus sent out an email invitation to the architects, engineers, and landscape architects in Western New York. We scheduled 1 to 3 training seminars per week in Buffalo and Rochester, which allowed us to present new ideas and promote the use of plants in a fun, informative setting. The training seminars were very well received and new friends and colleagues were developed.” An additional surprise occurred for O’Donnell when her name was announced as winner of the raffle drawing. She commented on the prize, donated by the National Interiorscape Network, which consisted of a $450 travel voucher and $550 for NIN business consulting. “Botanicus has benefited in every way from our membership in NIN. From benchmarking to best practices, learning from the most professional and successful companies is great fun and profitable! Now I will get Dick Ott one on one to take the next step to success!” Other sponsors who made GPGB’s Cocktail Party Fundraiser possible included Olive Hill Greenhouses, Architectural Supplements, Plants in Design, and Sunborne Nursery. No previous speaking experience is necessary before becoming a Registered Trainer. If anyone is interested in taking advantage GPGB’s Registered Trainer Program to grow their business, please contact GPGB at or visit the website at

Become a GPGB Supporter!

RT Awards - Zazerra, ODonnell, Mumford Top performing Registered Trainers, pictured left to right: Joe Zazzera, Kathryn O’Donnell, and Jim Mumford.

Building Evolution: How Biomimicry is Shaping the Nature of our Buildings

there is a new “nature” within a building

When you think of nature as it applies to building design, operation and maintenance, you probably think about the garden atrium in the building, the staged greenery throughout the lobbies or perhaps the views to common areas planted in greenery. However, there is a new “nature” within a building. It is a concept termed biomimicry, which literally means to mimic life. In 1997 biologist and science writer Janine Benyus coined the term when she wrote the book Biomimicry—Innovation Inspired by Nature.  Biomimicry has since become a design discipline that investigates how the natural environment operates, and more specifically, how living organisms create and solve design challenges. Design solutions adapted through the use of biomimicry are intended to foster a more sustainable human experience and existence.  Major architectural design firms, in building and city design, are actively using this new discipline. Through a process of reconnecting with nature and researching living organisms, the design teams, together with biologists, are looking at how natural systems operate and are “asking nature” as a means to inform their building design.  How do living organisms capture, store and process water, sunlight and waste? How does nature cool, shade and recycle nutrients? In addition to some of the more basic building functions, other designers are looking at 3D printing and nanotechnology as a means to advance building material design and construction. The observations of lessons in nature are having a profound impact and are challenging the way things have been done since the industrial revolution. Applied biomimicry can be utilized in three ways or in a combination of these three ways:
    • Form– such as mimicking dragonfly wings to create lightweight structures
    • Processes-such as mimicking photosynthesis to capture solar energy
    • Systems-such as building wall systems that mimic the homeostasis in organisms which allows them to regulate their internal conditions such as temperature
It’s for the birds Millions of birds are killed each year by flying into the reflective glass of office buildings and homes. The reflections of trees, landscape and the sky can make it appear as if the glass is not there. Green building has increased the need for additional glass for interior day lighting creation. The result is an increased frequency of bird deaths each year. The Arnold Glas Company, through the use of biomimicry, looked to spider webs and their ability to avoid destruction by bird flight. Spider webs include a reflective component in the UV range that deters birds from flying into their webs, yet they attract insects such as moths towards their reflective light. This UV component increases the spiders foraging success and avoids destruction at the same time. Arnold Glas has created a product called ORNILUX that integrates this UV reflective pattern into its glass. This has resulted in 76% fewer bird collisions in field-testing. From pounding waves to formaldehyde-free indoor air Construction-materials technology requires continual improvement focus in the built environment. Of particular concern is improvement of indoor air quality and volatile organic compound (VOC) reduction and removal. Although VOC’s are best never having made it into the indoor environment, they have been a major contributor to poor indoor air quality and sick building syndrome. Colombia Forest Products has looked to biomimicry in solving the issue of carcinogenic, formaldehyde-based glue in its plywood products. They asked, “How does nature adhere?” The blue mussel mollusk creates a unique amino acid, which formulates a strong thread, connecting it to rocks in the ocean. By remaining attached to the rocks, mussels withstand the pounding waves of the surf. The mussel “glue” is created at ambient temperatures, under ambient pressures, and in a wet environment. Looking to nature, researchers were able to mimic the mussel recipe, creating a soy-based and formaldehyde-free adhesive now used in its products. PureBond® is a soy-based, formaldehyde-free technology used in the construction of hardwood, plywood products. This same amino acid process is now being looked at as a medical implant coating. Cement from fumes As the second most consumed substance in the world behind water, concrete is the most used building material. At a cost of $37 billion per year, about 10 billion tons are produced annually. The creation of portland cement emits 1 pound of CO2 for every ton of cement produced. Obviously, cement production comes at an environmental cost. Brent Constantz is a bio mineralization expert from Stanford University; Constantz used biomimicry to observe the construction of the coral reefs and as an application technology for concrete production. CO2 gas and ocean water have a natural reaction, which creates calcification. This rapid mineralization uses CO2 as a raw material that creates the coral structures. By using waste gas from a local power plant and dissolving it in water, Constantz and his company Calera are using CO2 as a feedstock for concrete production. In addition to sequestering carbon within the concrete they are producing, they are helping to reduce the carbon footprint from portland cement production. It’s genius The genius of nature is all around us, from the coral in the ocean to the ecosystem services provided by trees, algae and earthworms. Living organisms operate under a sustainable set of operating conditions, which have been evolving over the last 3.8 billion years. By looking to nature and mimicking designs that fall within these “life’s principles,” we have the opportunity to create from a knowledge bank of the best research lab ever—nature. Our knowledge about the built environment is changing rapidly. What better teacher do we have than organism models, which have learned to survive on this planet across billions of years?
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