With the World Green Business Council’s recent report recommending that building owners and facility managers integrate natural features into workplace designs, it can be hard to know which features will make a difference and which will just end up as background scenery.
While the generic benefits of office greenery are well-established, specific features and how they relate to occupant satisfaction aren’t as defined. 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, released by Terrapin Bright Green, a sustainability consulting firm, lays out hallmarks of green offices that will improve worker productivity, satisfaction, and overall health.
1) Visual connection with nature – A view to elements of nature, living systems, and natural processes, which can be as simple as a window view or an outdoor break area.
2) Non-visual connection with nature – Even non-visual experiences such as calming nature sounds have been shown to reduce stress and improve cognitive performance.
3) Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli – Nature sounds such as birds chirping or calming breezes have shown significant employee wellness benefits.
4) Thermal and airflow variability – Small changes in temperature, humidity, airflow, and surface temperatures can increase worker comfort, leading to productivity gains.
5) Presence of water – Not only can features such as waterfalls or fountains increase concentration, but also elevate occupant mood and positive emotional responses.
6) Dynamic and diffuse light – Lighting that mimics natural sunlight patterns can help maintain visual comfort and reduce eye strain.
7) Connection with natural systems – Variations to match the seasons can help occupants feel at home and more connected to their environment while also improving perception of the workplace.
The report also identifies patterns from natural analogues and spatial conditions that evoke a feeling of being in nature which can help increase workers’ feelings of being connected with their workspace. The full report is available for download here.
“New research supports measurable, positive impacts of biophilic design on health, strengthening the empirical evidence for the human-nature connection, and raising its priority level within both design research and design practice,” say the report’s authors.
Looking to green up your office? Even the simple addition of plants can help improve worker productivity!