WORKPLACE / MAR. 11, 2014
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5 Ways in Which Green Walls in Buildings Increase Employee Productivity

Green walls are fast catching up as a beautiful and environmentally friendly design concept. Also popularly referred to as vertical gardens, these self-sufficient systems comprise of a variety of plants that grow on panels using hydroponic techniques. Apart from the green facade that they lend to buildings, these vertical gardens are known to have several positive impacts on the structure that ultimately result in better employee productivity. Here are 5 benefits of having green walls installed in office buildings:

Air Filtration: Pollution has become an accepted part of our daily lives and something that can’t be avoided whether we are indoors or outdoors. Commonly found indoor pollutants include Carbon monoxide, Formaldehyde, Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Volatile Organic Compounds etc. These pollutants make way into our lives in the form of paints, printing ink, furniture, electronic equipments etc. People living and working in buildings of manmade materials are said to inhale over 300 contaminants every day as per the US Environmental Protection Agency. The alarm bells sound more jarring when hypothesis leads to concluding how highly toxic the combined effects of these pollutants can be.  

Plants are known to be natural air filtration units. There are certain tropical plant species which are more effective in this regard. When plants are chosen carefully for green walls, they act as an active shield against many of the above listed pollutants.

Temperature Regulation: Several studies conducted in the past suggest that employee productivity is best at an optimal temperature range of 21.1 ºC (70 ºF) to 22.8 ºC (73 ºF). With increase or decrease in temperature, a substantial change in productivity level has been observed. Green walls result in natural decrease of temperature which is much needed to tackle the problem of urban heat island effect. They also act as an insulator against lower outside temperatures.

Reduction in Noise Pollution: Noise is one of the greatest deterrents to effective productivity levels. Traffic, construction and industrial production contribute to urban noise pollution. Internally a building buzzing with human activity is bound to have noise caused due to reflection of sounds by walls or other hard objects. Vertical gardens reduce the noise level inside rooms in proportion to the number of plants they are carrying. Plants lower noise pollution through their ability to reflect, refract and absorb sound in small quantities.

Improved Vision: In today’s world, a majority of employees have to use computers in some form or the other. Prolonged working hours result in eye strains or even blurred vision. There is enough backing for the fact that greenery is soothing to the eyes. Due to the close evolutionary bond that humans have shared with nature, the human eye is said to distinguish between 2000 shades of green which is not so in the case of other colours. Having green patches in the surrounding environment helps in stress reduction and invigorates vision.  

Visual Appearance: Green walls take the visual appeal aspect of buildings several notches up, making them the perfect choice to up the ante on design elements. These vertical gardens act as original works of art unique to the specific environment where they are installed and add an aesthetic value to the building. With seasonal variations and creative colour combinations, they are never too monotonous.

Studies conducted suggest that plants have an important role to play in various factors of employee productivity:

Reduction in employee absenteeism: A study conducted by three researchers at Michigan State University (2010) studied the impacts on employees moved from regular buildings to LEED certified buildings. The results suggest a reduction of 50% in absenteeism due to allergies or asthma and 30% reduction in absenteeism caused by depression and/or stress.

Decrease in Stress Levels: A study conducted in 1996 by Lohr et al concluded that plants help in reduction of blood pressure, stress levels and increased attentiveness.

Increased Creativity: A 2003 study conducted by Society of American Florists in association with Texas A&M University team came up with some astounding results. The results suggested nearly 30% increase in idea generation by men and more flexible, creative solutions by women who had been placed in workplace environments with greenery.

Sick Building Syndrome, a group of commonly occurring health disorder in urban ecosystems, is a cause for much concern and green buildings seem to be one of the most viable options to counter it. Besides gifting employees a healthier life and consequently increasing their productivity levels, by adding elements of greenery, companies stand to leverage their image as employers committed to creating better work places.

Start working today to experience the benefits of green walls.

(Photo Courtesy: Flickr)

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