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