Creating Healthy Buildings to Work In. The WELL Building Standard
November, 2016 - Our built environment has a profound impact on our health, well-being, happiness and productivity. Our built environment can shape our habits and choices, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, drive us toward healthy and unhealthy choices, and passively influence our health through the quality of our surroundings.
Health and wellness is one of the largest growing industries, and consumers are impacting this growing demand. In the design and development industry, owners, designers and builders expect health to have a higher influence on design and construction decisions over the next two years.
The WELL Building Standard® provides the opportunity to design and build with a human-centered approach, which ultimately supports the industry in comprehensively addressing human health.Until relatively recently in human history, people had constant interaction with living things and their natural surroundings. Biophilia, or the idea that humans have an affinity towards the natural world, is an emerging field that aims to address our psychological need to be around life and life-like processes. Exposure to views and images of nature can help to speed up healing and recovery time, boost positive feelings and reduce negative ones. Interior environments that are cold, sterile and devoid of life, on the other hand, can diminish our experience, mood and happiness.
Until relatively recently in human history, people had constant interaction with living things and their natural surroundings. Biophilia, or the idea that humans have an affinity towards the natural world, is an emerging field that aims to address our psychological need to be around life and life-like processes. Exposure to views and images of nature can help to speed up healing and recovery time, boost positive feelings and reduce negative ones. Interior environments that are cold, sterile and devoid of life, on the other hand, can diminish our experience, mood and happiness.
The standard recommends a minimum of 1% of the floor area to have plants, ie., a 5000 sq ft space should have 50 assorted plants.
Biophilia? What’s That??
October, 2016 - Literally, the term “biophilia” means “love of life or living systems”, or the extent to which humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life.
A growing number of organizations from Google to the federal government are incorporating nature into their office blueprints, not just to earn more green building certification points but to reduce employee stress, encourage creativity, and improve cognitive function. Workstations with views of nature, as well as interior waterfalls, aquariums, and living walls are all playing a major role in recognizing the human factor, and our need to be connected to nature, as well as a need for wonder and awe in our lives.Nature has the potential to amaze us, stimulate us, and to propel us forward to want to learn more and understand our world more fully. Nature adds a kind of wonder value to our lives unlike almost anything else.
The biophilic design movement emerged in the 1980s, and interest has accelerated in the past six to eight months, especially among the high-tech and healthcare sectors, with designs focusing on the people rather than the design of the building.
Tangible financial benefits are beginning to emerge as well. Using healthcare again as a specific example: research has shown that hospitals can shorten the amount of time patients spend convalescing by providing them a view of trees or other elements of nature from their beds. Financial benefit can be seen in real estate values and hotel room pricing as well. Rooms with a view of the parking lot are considerably less expensive than the rooms with ocean views.
Google has a strong interest in biophilic design, with the company having issued guidelines for designing sunlight and fresh air into workplaces wherever possible, according to Anthony Ravitz, Google’s real estate and workplace services green team lead. “We’ve found that Googlers with desks closer to windows are more likely to feel that their work environment lets them be more productive and sparks creativity,” he wrote. “This feedback reinforces our belief that building design helps reduce stress levels, increase creativity and improve performance, and we’ll continue finding ways to measure and support this.”
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Benefits of Indoor Plants
December, 2016 - Thinking about adding indoor plants to your office? The benefits of indoor plants and flowers are many, and include the following:
* Improve Indoor air quality. Research conducted by the Plants and Environmental Quality Group at the University of Technology, Sydney has shown that just 3-8″ potted plants reduced the total Volatile Organic Compounds in a 1500 cubic foot office by 50-70%.
* Almost every material used in office– equipment, wood, plastic and paint, in particular – release volatile organic compounds that, even in very low doses, can lead to headaches, lack of concentration and tiredness. Some, such as benzene, are linked to cancer.
* Greater productivity. Putting plants, and/or art, in any office will improve productivity by 16%, according to Dr. Craig Knight, a psychologist, who has completed studies with more than 2200 office workers since beginning his PhD in 2006 at the University of Exeter. Knight started out evaluating whether productivity improves with “lean” office design – the trend towards clean desks, free from personal effects, papers, plants and family photos. But he found the opposite was true. Comparing people who worked in a “lean office” against those in a space enriched by plants and art, the productivity difference was stark – the “enriched” space increased productivity 16%. Intriguingly, productivity doubled again to 32% when staff were given the autonomy to place the office art and plants where they liked (in consultation with each other).
* Improved sense of well-being and job satisfaction. A study led by Tina Cade, an associate professor of horticulture at Texas State University, and Andrea Dravigne of the San Marcos Nature Center Determined that Workers are happier when offices have plants and windows, a new study found. American office workers spend an average of 52 hours a week at their desks, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, “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,”. “We thought it was important for offices because a lot of times people are looking for ways to keep employees happy and do all these expensive things like put in a daycare or a workout room. Maybe for less investment they could put in a few plants in strategic places. “The team surveyed 450 office workers in Texas and the Midwest, asking questions about job satisfaction and work environments. They found that people who toiled in offices with plants and window views reported they felt better about their job and the work they performed compared to those in windowless offices without shrubbery around.When asked about their overall life quality, 82 percent of people who work with plants and windows around said they felt “content” or “very happy.” Only 69 percent of those who work with plants but without windows, and 60 percent of those who have windows but no plants, said they felt this way.The group of people who work without plants or windows were the most dissatisfied, with only 58 percent of them saying that overall they were “content” or “very happy.” While no one who works with plants, windows, or both reported they felt “miserable,” 0.8 percent of those who work in offices devoid of either said they were “miserable.”“I was really surprised that having a plant in your office appeared to be more beneficial than having a window in your office,” Cade said. “Everybody says, ‘I need a window!’ but actually it seemed like a plant could be a suitable alternative.”The scientists hope their research may influence employers, architects and urban planners to remember to keep flora around.“Based on what we’ve found, it needs to be considered in planning,” Cade said. “A lot of times these things are seen as luxury items, but this speaks to the importance of trying to keep spaces green, both inside and outside.”
* Reduced stress levels.V irgina Lohr and Caroline H. Pearson-Mims, professors in the Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Washington State University conducted a study to identify the benefits of plants in an office environment. The venue for the study was a computer lab and the experiment measured stress levels in people using computers. Subjects were randomly assigned to be tested in the computer lab when plants were absent or when they were present. In the lab environment where interior plants were present, the plants were placed around the sides of the room. The study monitored subjects’ blood pressure and emotions while they performed a slightly stressful computer task that measured reaction times in response to seeing and decoding the shape of a simple object on the screen. When plants were added to the lab, the subjects were more productive (12% quicker reactions on the computer task) and less stressed (systolic blood pressure lower). They also reported feeling more attentive when the plants were present.
* Reduction in sick days. University professor Tove Fjeld in Oslo, Norway, studies have shown that plants improve employee health in offices, schools and hospitals. Plants were included or not in offices during various periods for employees. When plants were present, ailments such as fatigue, headache, sore throat, coughs, and dry skin were all reduced. The mean reduction of 12 ailments with plants present, compared to without, was 23 percent. U.S. researchers Fisk and Rosenfeld of the Berkeley National Laboratory have quantified this into a $58 billion annual savings from sick-building illness with the use of plants, 40 percent of all sick days related to poor indoor air quality in their study. In addition, they estimate an additional $200 billion could be saved using plants indoors from improvements in worker performance
Pantone’s Color of the Year is the Perfect Hue of Optimism
January, 2017 - Pantone has selected its
color of the year for 2017, and it couldn’t
be more perfect. The shade is titled
“Greenery” and it is number 15-0343.
A fresh and vibrant combination of
yellow-green, Greenery evokes all
that is new and lively about optimistic
Spring coming on the heels of Winter
and reminding us that life with its
infinite possibility and optimism is
always available to us.
According to Pantone, “Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront - it is an omnipresent hue around the world. A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.”
Why does Pantone choose a color of the year? According to the company, it serves as a “color snapshot” of what’s happening in our global culture. Following the tumultuousness of events around the world and the political climate in 2016, this year’s selection symbolizes the connection we seek with each other, the harmony in nature as well as the pursuit of our own personal passions and vitality.
At Capital InteriorScapes, we salute the selection of Greenery 15-0343 as the color of the year for 2017. We believe that color can invoke mood and we love the fresh and zesty qualities of this color that remind us of the lushness of Spring and Summer. Plants of this hue imbue our interior surroundings with uplifting optimism just when we need it the most, allowing us to take in the fresh oxygen they help to create that renew and reinvigorate us.
Even though January has only just begun, this beautiful color reminds us that Spring is really just around the corner. In the words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “…And Winter slumbering in the open air, wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!” Pantone’s Greenery 15-0343 is a glimpse into that dream we can all surround ourselves with as we wait patiently for warmer days.
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