Green offices. A workplace tailored to human nature.

It is a paradox of today’s world that although our connection to nature is hardwired into our DNAwe spend ever more time in an environment that contains little to nothing of nature. According to a UN study, by 2050 68% of the world population will live in an urban environment; other research indicates that we currently spend 90% of our time indoors.

The new conditions understandably bring with them many negative consequences, and in particular for those working in 9 to 5 jobs, who increasingly face health problems such as burn-out syndrome and diseases of affluence.

It is difficult to predict where this trend will lead us next. Companies around the world are therefore thinking more often about how to bring natural environments to the workplace and improve employee wellbeing.

What is biophilic design? And how does it help to make you healthier and more productive?

The idea that people have a strong innate relationship with living things is nothing new. Together with the findings of biologist E. O. Wilson, who termed "biophilia" to be a product of the biological revolution, the new discipline of biophilic design was born in the 1980s. However, this field is only now realising its full potential.

Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.

E. O. Wilson

More than just adding plants to indoor spaces

The pronouncement that “having a bit of greenery in an office is a good thing” is only the start. Biophilic design is a much more complex discipline and requires a careful approach.

Biophilic design is used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. It also includes specific colour arrangements, new types of furniture, carpets, decorations, and attention is also paid to sound and the way it acts in the space.

Some of the basic biophilic design elements

  • Environmental features
  • Natural shapes and forms
  • Natural patterns and processes
  • Light and space
  • Place-based relationships
  • Evolved human-nature relationships

The conclusions of studies and meta-studies indicate that people in a natural green environment feel joy, feel relaxed and have a lower level of stress. They are also enjoy better health and a more positive mood. Working in such an office provides motivation, and people experience greater satisfaction.

For planning natural systems an approach should be taken similar to that used for other important components of the modern work environment. It is necessary for this to be addressed right from the start of a project. The thorough consideration of the workplace environment can lead to original and more durable solutions because this is a completely new ethos that poses interior design not merely as an aesthetic or functional discipline, but as a way to improve people’s mental and physical well-being.

How many plants does it take to purify the air in a room? NASA has the answer.

Are you interested to know how many plants are required to clean the air in a room? According to NASA, which recently prepared a study on this theme, it should be 15 to 18 plants in 6 to 8-inch- diameter containers to clean the air in an average 1,800 square foot house. That's roughly one plant per 100 square feet of floor space.

NASA went even further with its research and their recommendations also cover the correct choice of plants. According to their findings, the best plants for cleaning interior air are the Florist’s Chrysanthemum and Peace Lily.

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Interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement

Plants in offices. The economic perspective.

Today there already exist a host of cases that demonstrate the economic value of locating office buildings in a green environment. Studies exist from which you can draw your own opinions.

The Economics of Biophilia, for example, shows that productivity costs can be 112 times greater than energy costs. As an example: the number of calls taken per hour by telephone operators who looked out onto vegetation through large windows was significantly higher than the number of calls taken per hour by those without a view from a window. The first group handled calls 6-7% faster than the second group.

The performance of employees is obviously affected most by the interior environment. Here plants traditionally help by being able to clean the air of pollutants, produce oxygen, reduce dust and increase air humidity. Thanks to better air quality we are able to better concentrate and we are happier in our workplace. When plants are used in a continuous “wall” they also provide some sound insulation, which helps us to remain calm and reduce stress.

Modern technology is able to monitor and evaluate the environment. We therefore have hard data at our disposal which not only confirms the positive influence of plant life on our wellbeing, but also enables us to come up with more effective concepts.

Thanks to this we know, for example, that green offices have an impact of from 30% to 67% on happiness.

50%
decrease in stress levels
20%
(up to) decrease of workplace noise
15%
increase in productivity
30%
reduction of sick days

What is concealed in the flower pots?

Photo: Greenest Co.

Czech firm Greenest Company offers the monitoring of the internal office environment in an inconspicuous way. Their equipment, loaded with sensors, measures all the key parameters. Air humidity, CO2 content, light conditions, acoustics, pressure and temperature. The recorded values from your office are then compared with an extensive database of measurements, and data-driven recommendations can then be provided.

The equipment is concealed in plant pots containing coffee trees. Guess who the hide and seek winner is this year!

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If you want more greenery, start from the outside.

More frequently we are now seeing greenery being integrated directly into the architecture of new buildings. Investors together with architects are looking at various ways to deal with excessive airborne pollution, and at the same time improve the quality of the urban environment. We come across solitary trees, vertical gardens across the whole façade and complexes with the thoughtful integration of greenery. A typical exponent of this trend is Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, who designs buildings with balcony gardens and ingenious connections between nature and architecture.

Also in the pipeline are whole towns that deal with this issue on a grand scale. In China they are planning to construct a green town with 40 000 trees and millions of plants. In a country that often experiences excessive air pollution in its cities, this will help improve the living conditions of inhabitants. Further examples can be seen in the video.

The world's first living factory hall

Photo: LIKO-S

The new approach is not limited just to buildings in densely populated urban conglomerates, as we can see from, for example, Czech firm LIKO-S with its "living hall ", located in the countryside. Their production hall, designed by architect Zdeněk Fránek, is a response to the global climate crisis. In contrast to other production halls above which air can be heated to a temperature of up to 80°C, this building is able to reduce radiated heat and cool its surroundings by up to 10°C.

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How to start?

Are you planning a new headquarters and want to take the green route? Contact us. Our specialists have experience with large comprehensive interior projects. We will be very happy to discuss your plans with you and give you details of our completed projects and recommendations on how to proceed.

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Some of our realised projects full of greenery

Philips Bucharest

At the start of the long and successful story of the Philips brand was a standard lightbulb with a carbon filament. This was what Gerard and Frederik Philips established, in Eindhoven in 1891, their first factory to produce.

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A dog friendly office

VAFO PRAHA is a successful producer of premium cat and dog food, which it exports to over sixty countries under the brands Brit and Let‘s Bite. This Czech family firm is based in the small town of Chrášťany close to Prague. Here you will find not just a production facility, but also offices for sixty employees. 

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Česká spořitelna. New Branch Concept

Česká spořitelna is the bank with the longest history in the Czech market. In the Czech Republic they have over 500 branches and 1,700 cash machines. Since the year 2000, it has been part of the strong Central European banking group, Erste, which expanded its activities to Central and Eastern Europe in 1997 and thanks to numerous acquisitions it has become one of the largest providers of financial services in the Eastern part of the EU.

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