Posts Taged indoor-plants

Why We Need Office Plants

plants contribute to an environment of comfort

Plants add beauty to our lives and temper the harsh aspects of our daily routine. In the office place, where stress often abounds, plants contribute to an environment of comfort, good health, and productivity.

Plants make the workplace more comfortable by providing oxygen and by slightly raising humidity levels. Plants also remove harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. Common indoor workplace materials that emit chemicals into the air are: latex paints, foam insulation, varnishes, adhesives, pressed wood, veneer furniture, copy machines, printers, rug pads and carpeting.

Today’s workplace environment is often a jumble of cubicles, computers, and crowding. Many people struggle with symptoms of fatigue, headache, dry skin, eye irritation, and coughing. A Norwegian study conducted by Dr. Tove Fjeld explored whether plants make a difference when it comes to these health problems. In this study, a group of people in office cubicles (called group A) were provided with plants, while a second group of people in cubicles (called group B) were not. After three months, the groups were switched. Data was collected for another three months.

The study concluded as follows: When people from group A and B had plants in their cubicles, symptoms of fatigue and headache fell by 30% and 20% respectively. Hoarseness and dry throat fell by around 30% and coughing by around 40% for both groups. Skin irritation fell by about 25% for both groups. All over, symptoms decreased by 25% when plants were present.

Plants also increase productivity in the workplace. In a study by Washington State University, researchers found that people with plants in their work environment were 12% more productive and had lower blood pressure than those without plants.

Recent studies even suggest that plants increase workplace happiness and employee satisfaction. Associate Professor Tina Cade of Texas State University told LiveScience, “We pretty much found out that if you had windows and plants, or even if you just had plants in your office, you were more satisfied with your job.”

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NASA Research on Living Plants Indoors

indoor plants remove potentially harmful gases and pollutants from the air

Common houseplants are more than just common. They beautify our homes and offices, and they also release oxygen and assist in cleaning our indoor environment. NASA research shows that indoor plants remove potentially harmful gases and pollutants from the air.

In 1973, NASA scientists identified 107 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air inside a Skylab space station. The VOC chemicals, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, are all known irritants and potential carcinogens. When these chemicals are trapped and unable to circulate, they cause people to become ill with symptoms such as scratchy throat and burning red eyes. This is called “sick building syndrome.”

Under the direction of B.C. “Bill” Wolverton, NASA tested a solution to VOCs by creating a BioHome, a tightly sealed building constructed with synthetic materials. Upon entering the BioHome, one experienced “sick building syndrome” until a substantial variety of houseplants were added. Another analysis of the air quality was conducted, and most VOCs were gone. Individual symptoms of “sick building syndrome” were also gone.

In the mid-1980s, Wolverton and his NASA researchers conducted studies where they placed potted foliage plants in sealed Plexiglas chambers. Studies showed that the plants were particularly effective at reducing common VOCs, including formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is commonly found in carpet backing, grocery bags, paper towels, particle board, plywood, foam insulation, paneling, and other substances.

Wolverton served in his field for over 30 years and retired as a senior research scientist at NASA. After retirement, he continued his work on air quality.

At the turn of the century, NASA and the Associate Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) reported on a 2-year indoor plant study where indoor plants were once again proven to be a valuable weapon against indoor air pollution.

Eleven popular indoor plants were placed separately in sealed, Plexiglas chambers. Chemicals were injected into the chambers. Golden pothos, philodendron, and spider plant were most effecting in removing formaldehyde molecules. Flowering plants such as chrysanthemums and gerbera daisy did best at removing benzene from the atmosphere.

Wolverton said the study further proves that indoor plants provide air purification, and he said more research needs to be done in the future.

“Plants take substances out of the air through the tiny openings in their leaves,” said Wolverton. “But research in our laboratories has determined that plant leaves, roots and soil bacteria are all important in removing trace levels of toxic vapors.”

Wolverton is the author of How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home and Office and Growing Clean Water: Nature’s Solution to Water Pollution.

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: http://www.wolvertonenvironmental.com/MsAcad-96.pdf

For more information on the many health and environmental benefits of using living plants indoors visit http://www.greenplantsforgreenbuildings.org/

WESST Corporation Gets LEED Credit for Use of Indoor Plants

By Joe Zazzera, LEED AP, GRP | May 3, 2010 | topics: press release, LEED credit, use of indoor plants




















WESST CORPORATION GETS LEED CREDIT FOR USE OF INDOOR PLANTS

Albuquerque New Mexico’s Wesst Corporation was recently awarded Silver LEED Certification in part through the use of indoor plants, only the second project to do so in the U.S.

Credit for the use of live plants indoors was given under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a third party rating system offered through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Points were awarded in the category of Innovation in Design, under LEED.

According to Studio Southwest Architects and the LEED Consultant Halcom Consulting, key points cited in the submittal were live plant’s ability to filter VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), uptake carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, and release fresh oxygen into the atmosphere. The Plant type and percentage of the installation along with VOC removal characteristics with milligram per hour removal properties for formaldehyde, Xylene and ammonia were cited within the LEED submittal. Green Plants For Green Buildings (GPGB.Org) extensive library of resources back up the research and findings in the submittal. The 420 Sq Ft bio-filtration wall measures 17 ft by 24 feet high and was installed by NedLaw of Canada. The “Bio” wall is fully integrated into the buildings air handling system.

The credit award supports the argument that human beings need to feel connected to the natural environment in order to enjoy a sense of psychological, physical and social well-being.  Biophilia directly confronts the issue of aesthetics and our evolved sense of beauty. The patterns, forms, textures and colors of nature provide abundant models that can be used in building and product design to enhance their aesthetic appeal, not just their functionality and efficiency. Incorporating this natural sense of beauty into a building makes them not only greener in the environmental sense, but also greener in a human sense.

Unlike Australia’s ‘Green Star’ green building rating system, the current USGBC LEED system does not yet offer a specified direct credit for the inclusion of live plant applications. Within the current LEED section titled “Innovation in Design” it is possible for plants to be part of a specially developed use.

It is widely recognized that plants in the workplace offer more than just aesthetic value.  In fact, research science and studies have shown that in addition to improving indoor air quality they help reduce stress, enhance employee attitudes, and increase productivity.

For more information on the many health and environmental benefits of using living plants indoors visit www.gpgb.org.

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First Building in U.S. to Get LEED Credit for Use of Indoor Plants

E & E Awarded the Platinum LEED Certification

By Joe Zazzera, LEED AP, GRP | March 22, 2010 | topics: press release, LEED credit, use of indoor plants

The Ecology and Environment (E & E) Headquarters in Lancaster, New York was recently awarded Platinum LEED Certification in part through the use of indoor plants.

Credit for the use of live plants indoors was given under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a third party rating system offered through the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Points were awarded in the category of Innovation in Operation and Maintenance, under LEED for Existing Buildings 2.0.

The specific credit was for the Biophilic Connection to plant life found in this building, which supports the argument that human beings need to feel connected to the natural environment in order to enjoy a sense of psychological, physical and social well being.  Biophilia directly confronts the issue of aesthetics and our evolved sense of beauty. The patterns, forms, textures and colors of nature provide abundant models that can be used in building and product design to enhance their aesthetic appeal, not just their functionality and efficiency. Incorporating this natural sense of beauty into this building made it not only greener in the environmental sense, but also greener in a human sense.

Key points cited in the submittal were live plant’s ability to filter VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), uptake carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, and release fresh oxygen into the atmosphere. E & E used information from GPGB.Org’s extensive library of resources to back up their research and submittal.

Unlike Australia’s ‘Green Star’ green building rating system, the current USGBC LEED system does not yet offer a specified direct credit for the inclusion of live plant applications. Within the current LEED section titled “Innovation in Design” it is possible for plants to be part of a specially developed use.

It is widely recognized that plants in the workplace offer more than just aesthetic value.  In fact, research science and studies have shown that in addition to improving indoor air quality they help reduce stress, enhance employee attitudes, and increase productivity.

For more information on the many health and environmental benefits of using living plants indoors visit www.gpgb.org.

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