Nature Makes Us More Caring

air cleaning qualities and the effects on our overall heath and well-being

By Plant Solutions |  January 4, 2011 |  topics: Plants for Well-being, University of Rochester Study

Most of us have heard about the benefits of connecting with nature, the air cleaning qualities and the effects on our overall heath and well-being. A recent study however, shows that nature actually helps to improve our personal value of both our community and our close relationships. This University of Rochester study even shows that those connected to nature are even more generous with money! Check out the video then read the report. Click here to read the full report.


2010 Greenbuild Conference and Expo

plants for clean air message is spreading around the world

By Plant Solutions |  December 27, 2010  |  topics: Green Plants For Green Buildings, GreenBuild Conference

Again this year Green Plants For Green Buildings had the opportunity to spread its message at the GreenBuild Conference and expo in Chicago. GPGB along with FNGLA (Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association) and NFF (National Foliage Foundation) shared a booth in the expo gallery at McCormick Place.

The conference and expo, as always, was well attended. USGBC reports 28,000 attendees from 114 different countries along with some 1800 booths. “Clearly our plants for clean air message is being heard around the world” said conference attendee and GPGB representative Joe Zazzera. “We continue to solidify our place in the green building industry. There is no doubt, plants belong in healthy, green buildings”

During the GreenBuild conference, Zazzera, along with Viridian representatives April Ambrose and Matt Bell had a scheduled informal meeting with USGBC manager of LEED technical development Batya Metalitz. The group discussed the current proposed GPGB LEED pilot credit and the process under which it will now flow through the USGBC.

With new process changes being made to LEED, the actual submittal may not be reviewed until the second part of 2011. The new piloting process is not yet fully formed or complete by the USGBC. This has led to some minor delays in its formal review. “Although this delays our process slightly, the weighting factors for credits will be more defined and known”. Said Zazzera. “This should give us a clearer definition of how many points may be possible for indoor plants, atria and living walls”.

If accepted by the USGBC, the LEED pilot credit will award points under the LEED category IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality). There is a substantial body of research and evidence that proves that living indoor plants provide better air quality, lower absenteeism, higher employee productivity as well as significant improvement to the quality of the indoor environment. The Interiorscape Industry Coalition (ICC) funded the LEED pilot credit program, for development early last year.

In the interim, Batya and the USGBC have recommended that as a group, we continue to look for projects that will or have received credits through LEED in the ID (Innovation In Design) Category. Projects such as The WESST building in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Ecology and Environment (E & E) Headquarters in Lancaster, New York will help build the case for the credit.

“It has been a seemingly slow process”, said Zazzera “but I believe we have a solid, quality credit that, even if it doesn’t make it into LEED, will give us the template we need to guide our clients.

Pots of Health

houseplants – the secret ingredient to a healthy life

By Plants4Life | December 13, 2010 | topics: plants for health, increases productivity

We all know we need our five servings of fruit and veggies a day, and plenty of exercise – but evidence points to one more crucial daily dose needed for a healthy live: a houseplant.

According to Plants for People, house plants do more than just brighten up a room. As well as being pleasing on the eye, they have measurable benefits when it comes to mental and physical well-being and scientific studies now bring forward convincing evidence to support these claims.

Read full report here.

Ban Stress with Plants

stress awareness

By Joe Zazzera, LEED AP, GRP | November 11, 2010 | topics: stress relief from using indoor plants Our modern life-styles contribute to personal stress overload and government cuts will have shot stress graphs higher in the recent weeks too as we worry about how they will affect us. Stress has been named and shamed as making the risk of death 5 times (³) more likely and exposed it as the culprit of a loss of up to 20 million days for businesses, so it’s high time we looked at ways to improve our lifestyles and put stress back where it belongs! “We know from various studies that plants help to reduce stress – one of the biggest causes of heart disease as well as costing businesses through absenteeism. Just one plant can have an amazingly positive effect on people reducing their stress levels by 50% (¹),” says eFIG’s (²) chairman, Thomas Palfreyman. Research by a workplace consultancy firm Croner found that the top three causes of stress for UK employees were work (63%), finances (62%) and the economy (49%). Croner commented that high levels of stress could lead to absence, staff turnover and poor morale in the workplace and advise, “Stress issues should not be put on the back burner as it has a direct effect on productivity and impacts on an organization’s reputation and customer satisfaction. The problems that cause stress should be tackled head on.” More to the Power of Plants Several research studies have confirmed that plants – even views of them – reduce stress levels. A new study published early this year in Australia confirmed that just one plant on a desk – at work or in the home office – could have a really positive effect on people’s moods and reduce depression and anxiety by 50 & 60%. Even Chris Evans on his Breakfast Show quoted research by Dr David Lewis which claims that workers can reduce their stress levels by 60% by looking at a plant for 15 minutes. And plant-induced calm employees are more satisfied with their jobs, less likely to jump ship and join another company, more focused, perform better by as much as 12% and are more motivated. If businesses used plants as part of their stress management programmes, they could have a very positive effect on the bottom line. With National Stress Awareness Day coming up, maybe it’s time to relook at your stress management policies? Editor’s Notes (¹)’Greening the Great Indoors for Human Health and Well-being’, Margaret Burchett et al, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, 2010 (²) eFIG, the European Federation of Interior Landscaping Industries is a not-for-profit, membership based organization (³) Stress increases ‘risk of death five-fold’ – article in The Telegraph, 9 September 2010

Green (and red) Holiday Decor

artificial holiday decor alternatives

By Joe Zazzera, GRP, LEED AP ID + C | October 7, 2010 | topics: holiday decor, artificial decor alternatives, holiday greenery

The holiday season is traditionally decked out in red and green, but you can make your holidays “greener” in more ways than one. Not only can your holiday decorations be eco-friendly, they can also add more “green” back into your pocket. Here are some easy ways to do both:

  • Look for alternatives to the usual VOC-producing polyvinyl-chloride artificial trees and wreaths. Your local decorator or interior expert can provide you with a tree frame filled with beautiful poinsettias for an unusual and colorful alternative. These pyramids of red and green are not only breath-taking in their appearance, they actually help you breathe easier for removing harmful VOC’s from the air. These poinsettia trees are available in all sizes from 6 ft. to 60 ft. tall and can be strung with lights for more impact and excitement.
  • Another alternative to artificial trees are live ball-and-burlap evergreen trees. Depending on your city’s fire codes you may need to treat these with fire retardant but with expert care they should look fresh and beautiful throughout the entire season. Use them outdoors or bring them in with waterproof decorative containers. They’ll do best in cooler temperatures and be sure to keep the root-ball moist. These can be planted outdoors after the holidays, or donate them to your local senior center, school or parks and recreation department.
  • Grapevine wreaths can be heavily decorated and lighted for a spectacular effect, minus the VOC’s off-gassed by the usually artificial wreath. Use natural elements such as pine cones, bird’s nests, little clay pots, ribbons and dried flowers or fruits. Aluminum ornaments can be recycled and are often sold by local craftsmen. Or support a local school or children’s program with a donation in exchange for some hand-crafted paper origami ornaments.
  • Grapevine is also used to make life-sized reindeer, sleighs and other standing ornaments. Grapevine grows rapidly and is a renewable resource, organic and biodegradable and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • Want to save on your electric bill? Use LED lighting instead. Although the initial cost is usually higher, these lights use much less power and will usually last for 10 years, a great cost-saving, energy-reducing investment.
  • Colorful blooming plants are a great way to spruce up your lobby and fit any budget. Poinsettias now come in many colors, including different shades of red, burgundy, pink, peach, cream. Some even have stripes or spots. Some of the more non-traditional colors may need to be special-ordered so don’t wait until the last minute.

Other blooming plants include paper-white narcissus, cyclamen, ornamental peppers and azaleas.

  • Looking for a desk-top decoration or unusual gift? Miniature trees made of sweet-smelling rosemary can be decorated with mini ornaments or tiny bows, and some evergreens may also be available in smaller sizes. Keep them moist indoors and plant them outside after the holidays.
  • Don’t forget to add the music. Host a lunch-time concert and invite your local school choir or charitable group to sing traditional carols. Sponsor a giving tree or food drive as part of the event. This is the best time of year to support charities and show your social responsibility.

Green Earth-Green Plants Publication

green earth – green plants names advisory council

By | July 6th, 2010 | topics: green business, certified business, green earth green plants certified

Green Earth—Green Plants® announced today the formation of its Advisory Council.  The group’s membersare green certified interior plantscape businesses and other interested businesses, organizations and individuals.  “We are happy to announce the formation of this Advisory Council who will represent our Certified Business members and provide important feedback for the Certification Program” says Kathy Fediw, LEED AP, CLP, CLT, president of Johnson Fediw Associates and founder of the certification program.

The Advisory Council members are:

Joe Zazzera, LEED AP, GRP:  president and CEO of Plant Solutions, Inc.

Jennifer Bermudez-Perez: president, Growing Roots LLC franchise

Mike Langwiser:  operations manager of Atria, Inc.

Jim Mumford, GRP, CLP:  president of Good Earth Plant Company, Inc.

Joey Steinbeck, CLT:  general manager of Foliage Concepts, Inc.

Those on the Advisory Council must be an owner or employee of a Green Earth—Green Plants® Certified Business or the manufacturer of an Approved Product and prove their dedication to promoting eco-friendly business practices.  They are all serving as volunteers to this program.  They will be advising on the revisions and updates to the certification assessment; the valuation of the assessment’s point system; and future direction of the program.

“We at Johnson Fediw Associates are very grateful to this group of hard-working individuals and know that their feedback is crucial to the continuing success of this program” says Fediw.   The Green Earth—Green Plants® program certifies eco-friendly interior plantscape businesses and projects and includes recommendations for Approved Products.

Johnson Fediw Associates is a third-party consulting firm providing green certification programs to horticulture businesses.  For more information on the Green Earth—Green Plants® program, go to or call 281-687-6966.

Concerns About Mold and Indoor Plants

news you can use – a response to concerns about mold and indoor plants

By Plant Solutions | July 2010 | Topics: Benefits of Plants Not only do indoor plants aid in suppressing airborne microbes, but when they are properly maintained by a professional Interior Plantscape Contractor, there is less opportunity to produce mold, harmful or not. Proper care, lighting and watering will help avoid such problems”. Joe Zazzera, LEED AP, GRP More useful information from GPGB LEED Advocate Chair, Joe Zazzera: According to the State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services Indoor Fungal Infestations and Mycotoxicity: “There are no confirmed cases of mycotoxicity, via inhalation exposure, in residential or office settings”. Additionally, “The presence of mold in a building does not in itself constitute a health threat”. To view the entire article, go to: In an additional study conducted by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, Interior Plants Influence On Airborne Microbes Inside Energy–efficient Buildings: “significant findings indicate that large quantities of indoor plants may be used to increase humidity levels and suppress levels of mold spores and other airborne microbes inside energy-efficient buildings, while reducing air polluting substances”. To view the entire article, go to: For more information on the many health and environmental benefits of using living plants indoors visit

Barrel Cactus Living Wall

By | May 2010 | Topics: Living Vertical Greenwalls

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The Barrel Cactus Vertical Living Wall was built-in Scottsdale, Arizona. Designed by Joe Zazzera, GRP, LEED and installed by the Plant Solutions Team in May this year, this project is a vertical living wall using golden barrel cacti and a custom-built frame. A. Dunham Workshop built the vertical frame out of steel. The intent was to create a piece of “living art” to draw attention to the entry of the Plant Solutions design showroom.
Extra Media Published By:

There’s Opportunity in ‘Them There Walls’

favorite methods takes advantage of biofiltration

By Plant Solutions | July 2010 | Topics: Living Vertical Greenwalls

Joe Zazzera, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), is probably way too young to remember the cartoon character Yosemite Sam. Yet, like this Warner Brothers creation, he, too, sees golden opportunities. His, though, don’t reside in the western hills; they reside in urban landscapes in virtually every city in the country. Zazzera, president and CEO for Arizona-based Plant Solutions, is excited about transforming interior walls into plantscapes. “At one location, we’ve installed a small green wall to replace our client’s use of cut flowers,” he explains. “Live-plant walls are different, pique interest, and they are a practical use of available space.

“With real estate costs going up, architects are designing away atriums and other garden areas in favor of revenue-producing space. Live-plant walls don’t take up valuable space. They are also very attractive and functional, providing the same air-quality benefits that other indoor gardens provide.”

Zazzera notes that interior plantscapers can employ any of several different methods to install green walls. One of the favorite methods takes advantage of biofiltration. The green wall is constructed of a special, foam-like medium. Water is circulated through the medium via a small water fountain beneath the wall. In this scenario, the customer gets the benefits of two features — a green wall and a water feature.

“Green walls are new and exciting, and they’re not budget breakers for clients,” Zazzera goes on to explain. “In some cases, if you’re replacing cut flowers with a small, live-plant wall, the cost is already in the budget. On average, it will cost your clients around $100 per square foot for installing a green wall, or they can choose to lease one. As always, maintenance is key.”

Riding the Green Wave

Green walls are not the only new opportunities for interior plantscapers, says Zazzera, who is actively involved in trying to get interior plants into the LEED rating system. Installing and maintaining green roofs has potential for industry members, as well. “We already have a working relationship with architects and building owners,” he emphasizes. “The truth is that intensive green roofs, those that are heavy and require additional engineering to install, are less common today than their extensive counterparts.” In other words, you don’t have to be an architect or engineer to install every green roof, says Zazzera.

Green roofs come in all different shapes, sizes, and complexities. They do have their challenges, he emphasizes, not the least of which involve safety concerns working on roofs and maintaining plants in a sometimes hostile environment. A good place for beginners to start is to access the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Web site, The group is a valuable resource for learning about installing green roofs, and obtaining its Green Roof Professional designation will help interior plantscapers get their “foot in the door” of prospective clients.

The fresh opportunities presented by green roofs and green walls align with growing interest in sustainable landscapes and environments. As Zazzera relates, buildings already receive LEED credit points for having green roofs that reduce water runoff, provide additional insulation, and reduce the heat island effect. He chairs an advocacy group that’s lobbying the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to award LEED credit points for interior plants, also. When that day arrives, he points out, green walls and green interiors overall will be even more attractive investments for building owners.

Jetson Green Publication

plant walls for vibrant green spaces

By Preston Koerner | May 12, 2010 | topics: IAQ, Landscape, Modern design

The folks at Plant Solutions installed this vibrant living wall in a conference room of their Scottsdale office. The TerraScreen Living Wall is made with two 4’x4′ panels, which are made with a black, powder-coated, galvanized steel wire, and brackets that attach to the wall. The panels protrude a little less than five inches from the wall.

Plants are placed in 6″ no-hole cachepots and an irrigation system keeps them watered. This installation has pothos plants with colorful Neoregelia Medusa variety, according to Living Wall Art.

Green walls, like other interior plants, not only bring a slice of nature to the unnatural, but they also capture airborne pollution through absorption or by sticking to the plants. They can be good for indoor air quality.

Living walls are popular these days, especially with a NY Times article on the topic by Kristina Shevory, “Gardens that Grow on Walls.” It should be clear, though, they require care and a plan with respect to irrigation, lighting, nutrition, and plant choice. Some living walls die, while other green walls thrive.

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