In 2020, 56% of the global population lived in cities. It may seem like 4.3 billion people choose community, culture and opportunities over nature. But this is not necessarily true. Progressive cities have realized that plants are not only good for human health and well-being but also help with one of the biggest problems cities face today – overheating.
In an urban environment, vegetation is found to lower the air temperature by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius and at the same time provides shade. No wonder, then, that the city of Singapore, which is heating twice as fast as the world average, has decided to plant a million trees in the next decade. Another example of bringing nature to the places where we live, or work can be the campuses of the tech giants. Apple’s new Silicon Valley campus involved planting nearly 9,000 trees. And Amazon’s Seattle headquarters includes “spheres” of more than 40,000 plants.
“Biophilia” is a human instinct to connect with nature and everything living that we all inherited. It makes us feel good to be in a natural environment. And plants are a cost-effective way how to achieve this feeling inside of the buildings. According to this study, plants significantly increase workplace satisfaction, levels of concentration and perceived air quality. And people are aware of that. One-third of respondents in this study said that workplace design affects their decision to join a company. Unfortunately, based on the 2015 Human Space report, which studied workers in 16 countries, only 32% of them had a live plant in the office.
There is no doubt that nature has positive impacts on our well-being. According to Kenneth Freeman, Head of Innovation at interior landscaping company Ambius, plants lower physiological stress and increase attention. The positive effects of greenery in the office are supported by many studies. But some findings may still surprise you. Such as the one done by Roger Ulrich in 1991. He found out that patients with views to outdoor nature required fewer pain medications than those with no views. Suggesting that direct access to natural elements might make us more resistant.
Let’s now look at offices. When placed indoors, plants not only offer visual enhancement that also strengthens employees’ confidence in the company, knowing that their employer really care, but they also make the air cleaner. As commonly known, plants reduce carbon dioxide. In a process called “photosynthesis”, plants use carbon dioxide and combine it with water and light to produce energy. According to Dr. Fraser Torpy, director of the University of Technology Sydney, plants can reduce carbon dioxide by 10% in air-conditioned offices and by 25% in buildings without AC.
Another finding by researchers at London South Bank University suggests that plants can function as natural acoustic elements. When placed in corners and along empty walls, they reduce the distracting background chatter that is common for open offices.
To summarize: Enhancing office space with plants is an easy way to improve the work conditions and make the office attractive. Employees in offices with plants, compared to those in lean offices, are 15% more productive.
So, if you decide to be smart about your office by going green, we have a suggestion. Ideal plants for the office that require least care are succulents, rubber plants and peace lilies. They need less watering and look beautiful.