“Design is not just about what it looks like and feels like, it’s about how it works.” ~ Steve Jobs
Indoor plants have the proven ability to filter the air and thereby reduce the presence of potentially dangerous volatile organic compounds or VOC’s. The need to include indoor plants as an integral feature in the design of the modern sealed work environment is no longer an option – this is supported by an extensive study undertaken by Dr B. C. Wolverton and a team of NASA researchers.
The primary objective of the NASA team was to determine the benefits that could be derived from indoor plants in a typical enclosed space environment. They found that in addition to plants being producers of oxygen, plants were able to remove up to 87 percent of VOC’s.
VOC’s are emitted as vapour from a variety of sources including paints, varnishes, furniture, air fresheners and cleaning materials. Climate controlled or sealed buildings trap these emissions inside. One common VOC is formaldehyde – the US Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) report that this is commonly used as a preservative and in the production of adhesives. The NASA report refers to the ability of plants to successfully filter this, and other omnipresent toxins such as benzene and trichloroethylene, from the air.
The importance of the wellbeing of one’s workforce and the benefits of creating a psychologically comfortable and pleasing work environment might perhaps be obvious. Now that we have unequivocal evidence that indoor plants help reduce the toxicity levels in a modern office environment, it would be wise to incorporate plants as an integral feature of any interior design.
The recommendation of NASA is to use approximately 15 good-sized plants per 150 square meters. A professional interior landscaper will be able to contribute significantly to the selection of plants, containers and accessories. The strategic use of these materials together with the correct lighting will ensure a practical layout and aesthetically pleasing ambiance in the workplace.
Including a touch of nature to an otherwise artificial work environment has many benefits. In marketing 101, we learn that first impressions are important – the presence of indoor plants will undoubtedly enhance the appeal of a modern office. In addition to these obvious benefits, the studies now suggest that the inclusion of indoor plants is now a prerequisite when planning an efficient and healthy office environment.