Categories
Blog

How to create mood boards that excite your clients

A well-executed mood board can play an important role in helping to secure clients and is a great way to collect inspiration and explore ideas to give your project direction. As an interior designer, we know you’ll have experience in creating stunning mood boards but may not have considered using plants to enhance them further.  

At Benholm, creativity is at the heart of everything we do, and we love to collaborate with interior designers to achieve the best possible result for their clients. We help interior designers across the UK understand the science of adding greenery to a mood board to create visually appealing concepts that excite and inspire. 

To help demonstrate the importance plants can play in interior design, there are resources we can provide to enhance both digital and physical mood boards. 

Preparation 

Before starting a mood board or project involving plants, we can offer free CPD training for you and your team to help you push the boundaries of planting design and to create statement solutions for your clients.  

We have worked with many interior designers and because every solution is bespoke to you, we are on hand to help you specify the right plants for the right environment – including artificial if required – plus, we work with you to implement your designs so you and your clients can be confident that your creations are carefully and accurately carried through to completion.  

Where possible, we also encourage interior designers to visit us at our showroom to get a closer look at our products and meet our friendly team of experts.   

Digital mood boards 

With more virtual meetings taking place, mood boards are increasingly being presented digitally rather than in person. Digital mood boards are easy to share with other team members and clients, and can be easily modified if necessary. They also allow for video elements, sounds and interactive features to be added, and there are photoshop templates and dedicated apps to choose from making creating a mood board easier than ever before. 

We provide interior designers we work with access to an image gallery packed with over 300 plant types from our global network of growers to provide inspiration for your designs. The images in this gallery are in PNG format with a transparent background, making them perfect for use on digital mood boards and project presentations.  

Physical mood boards

Physical mood boards can stimulate the senses and excite clients in a way that cannot be replicated with digital mood boards.  They can also help to minimise error by providing a true reflection of how a material looks and feels.  

Presenting a mood board in person gives you an opportunity to make your mood board more immersive than a digital equivalent by supporting your presentation with 3D elements such as textured materials and accessories.  

A mood board which makes use of live plants taps into our in-built affinity with nature and can help your vision to stand out from competitors. Through exhibiting our services, we have found that interesting plant species such as Nordik Moss can spark interest and conversation around how it can be incorporated within a wider design. We can provide samples to compliment a mood board and give a better representation of how our plants will feel, as well as look, in your space. Rather than simply telling your client about the textures of a plant, let them feel for themselves. 

 

Collaborate with Benholm to help bring your mood board to life. Call us on 01324 861 300 or email mail@benholm.com   

 

If you found this blog interesting you can share it with your network:

Categories
Blog

How to discuss plants maintenance as part of an interior design project

Regular Maintenance is an essential part of any interior plant’s wellbeing. As an interior designer, it is likely you will deal with a diverse range of clients who may not always understand or appreciate the importance of a maintenance contract as part of a project involving plants.  

Here we will arm you with the knowledge to be able to underline the importance of a maintenance contract and answer any questions your client may have when discussing your next project.

DIY vs professional maintenance

If your client raises the possibility of maintaining their plants themselves, whilst they are free to do this, we strongly recommend against DIY maintenance. Plants maintenance needs to be thought about as an essential item of building maintenance in the same way as HVAC, lifts, cleaning, and landscaping services.  

Plants are a science in their own right and require a certain level of expertise to ensure they continue to look as healthy and vibrant as they were on the day they were installed.  

Plants maintenance done ‘in-house’ is often overlooked due to prioritization issues caused by a lack of time and personnel, and negligence can lead to significant avoidable costs arising from repairs, replacement, and removal.  

High quality maintenance produces plants which look attractive, vibrant, healthy, and thriving and this has been proven to have a positive effect on staff and visitors. Conversely, poor maintenance will result in unhealthy plants that will provide a negative effect which is damaging to staff morale, motivation, and productivity.  

Simply put, it is better to have no plants, than dead or decaying plants. 

With a maintenance contract we keep your clients’ plants looking healthy with minimal disruption to business, and they have peace of mind knowing that plants can be repaired or replaced should they become damaged.  

Any business can save 12-18% by investing in preventive instead of reactive maintenance. Source: https://transcendent.ai/blog/asset-management/42-roi-statistics-that-prove-you-need-a-maintenance-management-system/ 

 

Payment and contract options

At Benholm, we offer an extensive selection of real and artificial plants which can be either rented or purchased together with a range of care plan options for all your plants on site. So, whether your client likes to buy plants outright or prefers a rental package of plants to avoid a capital outlay, we have the flexibility to meet their needs. 

Renting plants significantly reduces the upfront cost of installing plants in your client’s premises and includes a maintenance contact which typically lasts a minimum of three years. Rental is normally invoiced quarterly in advance and the price your client agrees remains fixed throughout the minimum term of the contract making it easier for budget management.  

Purchasing plants outright rather than renting often makes most sense for those working with a ‘Capex’ budget, and a one-time transaction can be appealing when allocated funds to use for a new or refurbished space. Maintenance contracts are available for purchased plants over a period of 1, 2 or 3 years, and whether your client chooses to rent or purchase plants from us, there is no difference in the maintenance service we provide.  

You can find out more about the key differences between rental, purchase, and maintenance here.

 

 

Where do we service?

Our experienced team maintain planting solutions for organisations of all sizes throughout the UK and can work with you no matter your location to design the very best planting. 

What is involved in a maintenance visit?

Our talented team of technicians will visit the premises regularly to carry out a full inspection of the plants. We then clean, feed, prune and water the plants according to their specific requirements and will replace any dead, ailing or even overgrown plants at no extra cost.   

 

 

How often are maintenance visits?

A dedicated Benholm technician will typically only need to visit your premises every four weeks, made possible by our watering reservoir technique, but this is not set in stone and the frequency of our visits is also influenced by the needs of your clients plants. Artificial plants have less maintenance requirements than live planting and our visits are less frequently needed – usually on a quarterly, six-monthly or even annual basis.  

 

Quality of service

Our planting solutions are designed to keep plants healthy, but like all living things they need regular attention to stay as lush and vibrant as the day they were planted – especially in interior environments. Whether indoor or outdoor, real plants can require the right care and attention, delivered at optimal intervals. 

The quality and effectiveness of maintenance will depend on which company you choose, however the difference in the cost per planter of poor-quality maintenance versus good quality maintenance is virtually nothing – it could be only pence. Most companies charge very similarly for the service, but the result (or rather the ongoing result) can often be poles apart. It is often related to how the supplier trains, manages, and motivates their maintenance team. 

Accreditations are key when selecting suppliers, especially for more complex projects such as a living wall.     

The Benholm Group are proud to work to the very highest standards and are delighted to once again be awarded    

ISO 45001 for Health & Safety    

ISO 14001 for Environmental Assurance    

ISO 9001 for Quality Assurance    

 

 

Peace of mind

Here at Benholm we are passionate about the benefits plants can offer businesses, but without investing in regular maintenance these benefits will not last for long.  

We are bursting with creative ideas on how to transform your space, regardless of the setting. Whether your client choose to buy or rent from us, our friendly team will take care of the installation and maintenance of your plants minimising any disruption to their business. We use our expertise, so your clients can focus on theirs. 

 

We work with companies of all sizes throughout the UK. To talk to our team and find out more information or get a free tailored quote, call us on 01324 861 300. 

  

Resources

Trancendent

 

If you found this blog interesting you can share it with your network: 

Categories
Blog

Common challenges for interior designers to overcome when specifying living walls and what to do about them

Living walls may present several challenges for interior designers who are unfamiliar with the logistics involved in their installation and maintenance. 

The good news is that clients of the interior designers we have worked with have overwhelmingly found their results to be worthwhile.      

Here we will address the most common challenges we have encountered when working with interior designers to specify living walls.  

Living walls can truly revitalise any interior space. These ‘vertical gardens’ bring a fresh look to the interior of any property and create a lush focal point. They also have health and well-being benefits, providing cleaner air and boosting mood and productivity.     

This article will focus exclusively on interior living walls as they have a unique set of requirements that we encourage all interior designers to become familiar with before arranging an installation.   

Physical requirements

Our living walls can be installed anywhere the building infrastructure, plumbing, and access for maintenance will allow. 

A living wall, or vertical garden, is normally installed in front of an existing, solid wall, however free-standing options are also available. The structure is attached to the existing wall at various points, without causing any damage.  

For larger installations, usually over 65kg/m2, it would be best to consult a structural engineer or an interior architect to ensure the existing wall will be able to support the weight of the living wall.   

 

Temperature

The temperatures that a commercial building typically operates within for human comfort should also be suitable for most plant types used on our living walls. Despite this, temperature fluctuations can still affect the health of a living wall. 

  • Avoid nearby, direct sources of warm or cool air, such as a heaters or open windows/doors which create a draught 
  • If a building is likely to be unused with the heating off for periods at a time, even briefly, a living wall may not be suitable. 
  • The temperature at the base of the wall may be lower than the top, usually a consideration for larger living wall.

 

Lighting

Lighting is another primary concern when considering the suitability of a living wall.   

Living walls are best suited to open spaces with natural light such as a reception area. They can still thrive in darker areas but may require supplementary lighting which we can provide.  

Even where natural light is available, additional lighting may still be required to ensure adequate intensity, duration, and spectrum of lighting. The photosynthetic spectrum of our specialist artificial lighting promotes healthy growth and emits a specific wavelength of light not possible with regular ambient lighting. 

Irrigation

For larger living walls it is essential to incorporate an irrigation and drainage system to provide the right levels of water for its environment, and it is equally important to have our maintenance team onboard to visit regularly to ensure this is operating correctly for the seasons, so the plants are kept at their healthy and vibrant best all year round. Typically, irrigation systems can be hidden in utility rooms, nearby cabinets or disguised in stylish containers. Smaller walls can be manually irrigated, avoiding the need of mains water feed and drainage. Regardless of the size or irrigation requirements, living walls require careful regular maintenance to keep them looking their best. 

 

 

Plant species

Once we have studied the space it will be installed in, there is a variety of plant types we can recommend for use on a living wall. To create a striking effect, we normally recommend a selection of plant types with an eclectic mixture of leave shapes, colours, and textures. We use soil as the substrate for plants on our living walls to mimic their natural habitat allowing for a wider variety of plants to be used. Click here to see some of the living walls we have previously created.

 

Health and safety

Throughout the creation, installation, and maintenance of our living walls, we are fully compliant with the health and safety regulations of the venues we work with.  We ensure our living walls do not obstruct any means of warning or escape in the event of fire. We also ensure they do not interfere with fire-fighting facilities and access points needed for the fire service are kept clear.   

For further information on living wall fire regulations, ANS Global have created a useful guide for interior designers and architects which can be downloaded here.

 

 

 

Maintenance

Living walls are stunning, living, changing vertical landscapes but they do require consistent, intelligent, and careful maintenance to ensure they thrive. Maintenance for a living wall will typically involve making any necessary adjustments to the irrigation system, cleaning and inspecting the plant foliage and soil for signs of pests and disease.   

 

 

Timescales

The timescales will depend on the planting specification and complexity of the installation. As the saying goes: A job well planned is a job half done. Although the actual installation is relatively quick, there can be a lot of planning involved. For larger projects where structural changes as well as services need to be provided, it’s important to plan the living wall requirements as early in your project as possible.     

Our administration team will keep in touch with you so that you know where everything is up to and when to expect our team on site. We will always do everything we can to meet your timescales.  

 

 

Certifications and accreditations

Accreditations are key when selecting suppliers, especially for more complex projects such as a living wall.     

The Benholm Group are proud to work to the very highest standards and are delighted to once again be awarded    

ISO 45001 for Health & Safety

ISO 14001 for Environmental Assurance    

ISO 9001 for Quality Assurance    

Green walls can also help with achieving Green Building Certification through schemes such as BREEAM and WELL. These certifications demonstrate a commitment to the wellbeing of all those who occupy these approved spaces. 

 

 

Alternatives

If a living wall proves to be unsuitable, there are alternative green walls we can offer. Our artificial green walls and preserved moss walls can also inject a sense of nature whilst having lower maintenance and structural requirements.  

We offer bespoke green wall design and installation across Scotland and the wider UK. Our expert team can work with you to design, install, and maintain a living wall that is suitable to your space. 

Blur the lines between the outdoors and indoors. Talk to our team to find out more information or get a free tailored quote – 01324 861300    

Resources

Department for Communities and Local Government – Fire Performance of Green Roofs and Walls

WELL Certified

BREEAM

 

If you found this blog interesting you can share it with your network: 

Categories
Blog

Is biophilic design important in my restaurant?

Biophilic Design has been consistently cited as a leading interior design trend for 2022 – but is it just another passing trend?

And more importantly, is it a trend worth following in your restaurant?  

What is biophilic design?

Biophilic design is the incorporation of nature and natural elements into the ‘built’ environment to nurture an innate human need to connect with our natural environment. By following biophilic design principles we have helped numerous restaurants to create aesthetically pleasing environments that simultaneously enhance the physical and psychological wellbeing of those who occupy these spaces.  

Below we have detailed methods of implementing biophilic design in a restaurant setting to help your premises to stand out in a competitive market and improve the overall dining experience for your guests.   

 

Visual appeal

The most instantly noticeable effect of biophilic design is the visual impact it can have on your restaurant’s premises. 

A warm welcome speaks volumes. Some beautifully arranged entrance planters, perhaps with seasonal flowers, help to create an aura of prestige and immediately give your customer confidence in their decision to dine at your restaurant. Using plants to complement the exterior of your restaurant can also help to give it ‘kerb appeal’ and pull in passing foot traffic or encourage passers-by to make a mental note to visit in future. 

Apps like OpenTable allow customers to carry out extensive research before deciding where to eat. According to Truly Experiences, up to 90% of consumers in the UK will research a restaurant before visiting – more than any other business type. An interesting biophilic design can give your restaurant the upper hand on these platforms and influence potential customers to visit your restaurant. 

In the age of social media, diners are increasingly looking for sharable content which we have helped to deliver for restaurants of all sizes across the UK. We have experience in creating ‘Insta-worthy’ features for hospitality venues such as floral frames, selfie walls, vintage bathtubs overflowing with blooms, hanging birdcage chairs, and even flamingos made of flowers. These bespoke displays have given the hospitality venues we have worked with that wow factor and became a recognizable part of their trademark. 

 

Air quality

The Office for National Statistics reported that minor illnesses, which excludes Coronavirus, accounted for over a quarter of all employee absences in 2020. These minor illnesses include coughs, cold and flu which are often caused by VOCs found in busy indoor spaces, like restaurants, which typically hold a lot of recycled air. 

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are harmful gasses that are emitted from everyday materials such as paints, cleaning products, building materials and furnishings.  In restaurants, the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), charcoal and wood for grilling and frying products is a significant source of indoor VOCs that can pose serious adverse health effects to staff and visitors alike.  

The use of plants to neutralize these harmful VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) was proven to be effective by NASA’s Clean Air Study, which concluded that some plants were able to remove up to 90% of the harmful chemicals tested.  

 

Acoustics

In 2016, Consumer Reports surveyed complaint types across several restaurant chains and found excessive noise levels to be the most commonly occurring complaint, above poor service, problematic food prep, and even cleanliness. 

Through deflection, absorption and refraction, plants can help to improve restaurant acoustics. Sound bounces from impermeable surfaces such as walls and hard storage units, whereas plants are porous to support photosynthesis which also gives them the ability to absorb sound waves from the air. 

Being able to regulate noise is especially important in a restaurant where guests expect a certain level of ambience that allows for conversation and a sense of intimacy.  

 

 

Flexible layout

Plants can provide a natural method of screening to guide visitors, prevent queuing and attractively divide spaces for different functions.  

Our barrier planters can be supplied with robust castors to allow them to be moved easily or they can be secured in position to prevent them moving. They can be designed to suit any location and manufactured in any colour to match your branding, and there are many options for displaying your logo and other marketing messages. Every location is unique, and our creative design team will work with you to provide an ideal solution.  

 

Outdoor areas

Outdoor spaces are a golden opportunity to increase the capacity of your venue and provide an additional source of income all year round. From the perfect furniture to that finishing flourish of greenery, our team are here to help you design the ultimate outdoor dining experience for your hospitality customers. Click here to read our guide on how to untap the potential of your outdoor area.

 

 

 

Green certifications

Biophilic design can help to achieve coveted green credentials which now play an increasingly important role in a customer’s perception of an organization. 

Our Enviroculture planting system is clean, pure, and free from all soil-borne pests and diseases making it ideal for eating areas and restaurants. Every Enviroculture planting installation is rewarded with a Certificate of Environmental Excellence to display to your guests and contributes towards your ISO 14001 accreditation and schemes likes BREEAM. We also offer sustainable container options which are responsibly sourced and manufactured from 100% ecological materials. 

 

 

Conclusion

When executed effectively, the benefits of biophilic design can permeate every aspect how your restaurant operates and have a measurable effect on your bottom line.  

We have almost thirty years of experience working with restaurant owners, architects, and interior designers to bring biophilic benefits to restaurant staff and visitors across the UK. From concept to installation and ongoing maintenance, we enhance your venue with minimal disruption to you.  

Click here to download our Hospitality plant displays brochure.

To speak with a member of our team or obtain a free quotation, give us a call today on 01324 861300 or email mail@benholm.com 

Categories
Blog

8 ways interior designers are using plants in 2022

There are now more possibilities than ever before in how interior designers can use plants to complement their designs. Below are some of the more interesting solutions we have collaborated on which we hope will provide inspiration on new ways plants can be used to elevate any space. 

Why use plants? 

  • They contribute to an environment that can help to attract talent, aid retention, and improve productivity, creativity, and overall mental wellbeing.    
  • NASA studies have proven plants can improve air quality by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and enriching the air with oxygen. 
  • Plants can also soften the acoustics of a room as they absorb, diffract and reflect sound. 

1) Green walls

Green Walls have been immensely popular among interior designers and their popularity has shown no sign of slowing down this year.   

Green walls are a conversation starter and provide an intriguing focal point in a variety of settings. They can be used to great effect in office reception areas or meeting rooms, in public space spaces such as waiting areas and hallways, and in commercial buildings including shopping centres, hotels, restaurants and showrooms, as well as in high-end residential projects.     

 36% more guests spend time in biophilic hotel lobbies than in conventional lobbies   

They can be made using live plants (living walls), artificial plants or preserved plants (moss walls) and we can offer our expert advice on what type of green wall is most suitable for your client and where it should be placed.   

Green walls can be used to cover an entire wall, framed like a picture, or even built in with furniture.   

To give our green walls a personal touch we can incorporate patterns, words, or logos, on flat, contoured or 3D surfaces, and you can choose from a beautiful spectrum of colours. These bespoke displays are great way to stand out from competitors and underline green credentials in a visual way.    

We have worked with several brands to create one-of-a-kind displays and we expect this demand to continue in the years ahead. We love creating interesting spaces that people want to be seen at and our bespoke plant & floral features have proven popular on Instagram and helped to bring new customers to businesses.       

Whatever your vision, our team can put it on the wall for all to see. The design possibilities are endless.  

2) Green ceilings

Ceilings represent a huge blank canvas where interior designers can really transform the atmosphere of a room. Green ceilings can give an unexpected splash of nature breaking the monotony of regular plain white ceilings. With the Benholm design and installation team the sky is literally the limit for your green ceiling. 

Suspended raft planting can also breathe life into ceiling spaces. Designed to be suspended from ceilings with foliage hanging down from the raft, this type of planting brings nature closer to the users of the room below for a more immersive experience.  

 

3) Planted meeting spaces

Incorporating plants into meeting spaces may help to make meetings more productive and creative than meetings held in spaces devoid of nature. The Human Spaces report: The Global Impact of Biophilic Design (BD) in the Workplace found that those who work in environments with natural elements report a 6% higher level of productivity and a 15% higher level of creativity. These meeting spaces can come in the form of pods, seating areas surrounded by plants, or by simply using plants as a centrepiece on a conference table. When not being used for meetings, staff could use these spaces for restorative purposes as a sanctuary away from the wider office.  

 

4) Screens and partitions

The pandemic has made us all more cautious about occupying busy public spaces and businesses will be eager to maintain a healthy workforce. Plants offer a stylish opportunity to retain a degree of social distancing in a way that feels less invasive. 

Pandemic aside, plants are a natural solution for segregating areas of an office, restaurant, or retail space, and give a sense of privacy in open plan spaces.

There are many mobile options of planted screens to accommodate layout changes or relocation making them a much more versatile option than permanent structures.

 

 

5) Furniture with built in planting

Plants have been used to compliment furniture for decades in interior design, but the blending of the two is a more recent trend. Furniture such as desks, lamps, chairs and even sanitising stations can double as planters combining function with beauty without sacrificing valuable floor space. 

Dressing shelves and tops of cabinets with plants can give corporate spaces a greener and more attractive effect without taking up any floor space. They also discourage clutter and stop documents being left lying around an office. Cabinet top planting is ideal for high traffic areas within an office and the eye-level planting allows everyone to enjoy the benefits of biophilic design. 

 

 

6) “Resimerical” planting

Furniture giant Wayfair describes the ‘Resimercial’ trend as a “layout and furnishing style that brings the homey feel of residential furniture into the workplace” and “celebrates commercial quality, residential-inspired features over the sterile and standardized feel of corporate furnishings.”

The idea is to create a feeling of familiarity and comfort whilst remaining practical and productive. By borrowing comforting touches found within the home and adapting these for use in commercial spaces, interior designers have been able to create spaces which improve the wellbeing of staff, and increase customer spend. 

The trend predates the pandemic but is now gathering pace as workers return to traditional offices which unfortunately tend to be stripped of much of their connection to the natural environment. Plants were one of the leading ways home working was made more pleasant as seen by the steep increase in houseplant sales over the last two years. The Garden Centre Association reported that houseplant sales in 2021 were up 29.40% when looking at 2020 figures and up 50.19% on 2019. 

To replicate the sanctuaries created in home offices, consider using an eclectic mix of small, potted houseplants associated with the “Cottagecore” aesthetic. Nostalgia is especially powerful in time of uncertainty and create designs like the one above will bring comfort to staff and visitors alike. 

 

 

7) Plants for grid shelving

Grid shelving offers flexibility to workspaces providing the right mix of private and shared space. It allows for the simple and attractive division of space into zones for specific working purposes and social distancing without the cost of building walls. 

Grid shelving can be customised to include gorgeous, draped greenery, plants, and moss panels. The lighting and storage options available with this type of shelving can create a highly attractive visual and acoustic barrier.  Grid shelving also delivers levels of privacy between different working zones whilst maintaining a connection with the whole space.  

 

 

8) Trailing plants 

The popularity of trailing plants can be traced as far back as the hanging gardens of Babylon and they remain a great way to add wild, lush greenery in areas that are high up or difficult to reach. When placed on top of shelves or hung from the ceiling, trailing plants cascade downwards giving a feeling of abundance.   

Artificial trailing plants may be more suitable due to the inaccessibility of the areas they are commonly used. Even a perceived sense of nature can help to contribute to an environment that helps to attract talent, aid retention, and improve productivity, creativity, and mental wellbeing.  

 

To speak with a member of our team or obtain a free quotation, give us a call today on 01324 861300 or email mail@benholm.com 

Resources

If you found this blog interesting you can share it with your network:

 

Categories
Blog

Why should office managers bother about biophilic design?

As an office manager, you’ll juggle various responsibilities to ensure your workspace runs smoothly. Biophilic design can provide natural solutions to optimize working practises in ways many have not imagined. 

Supported by research from a range from reputable sources, we have shown below how biophilic design can help you to address several workplace issues including productivity, absenteeism, and even recruitment. 

What is biophilic design? 

Biophilic design is the incorporation of nature and natural elements into the ‘built’ environment. The purpose of such a design is create aesthetically pleasing environments that simultaneously enhance the physical and psychological wellbeing of those who occupy these spaces. Through appreciation of biophilic design principles, we can create working spaces that are more productive, more creative, that are calmer, less stressful, and more restorative. 

Wellbeing 

From Monday to Friday, a full-time employee will typically spend half of their waking hours in an office environment (based on a 40-hour working week and assuming 8 hours of sleep a night). Unfortunately, workplaces often tend to be stripped of much of their connection to the natural environment. Having employees work in a bare, clinical space can decrease morale and doesn’t provide a creative workspace to inspire and boost the mood of employees. 

Increased time spent indoors during the pandemic gave us a greater appreciation for nature and this was reflected in the offices that were created for employees forced to work from home. Many employees who were working from home used plants as a way to create a working space that is comfortable for them.  

According to The Garden Centre Association houseplant sales in 2021 were up 29.40% in comparison to 2020 figures, and up 50.19% on 2019.  

As the nature of work evolves, many employers are considering creating spaces which are less clinical and feel more compelling and inspiring to create a more productive and happier workforce. In the first field study of its kind, researchers found enriching a ‘lean’ office with plants could increase productivity by 15%. Lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, added: “This conclusion is at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern ‘lean’ management techniques, yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working.” 

Air quality   

Having a healthy pool of employees is critical to any well-run business and absence through illness can be costly.   

The Office for National Statistics reported that minor illnesses, which excludes Coronavirus, accounted for over a quarter of all employee absences in 2020. These minor illnesses include coughs, cold and flu which are often caused by VOCs found in busy indoor spaces, like offices, which typically hold a lot of recycled air. 

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are harmful gasses that are emitted from everyday materials such as paints, cleaning products, building materials and furnishings.  

The use of plants to neutralize these harmful VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) was proven to be effective by NASA’s Clean Air Study, which concluded that some plants were able to remove up to 90% of the harmful chemicals tested.  

 

Acoustics 

Busy offices are filled with distracting and interruptive noise that can reduce the productivity of employees. A sharp increase in virtual meetings taking place in offices has also made acoustics a more important consideration than ever before. Time lost through being unable to communicate clearly due to excessive noise can be costly and may frustrate customers and clients. 

Through deflection, absorption and refraction, plants can help to improve the acoustics in your office. Sound bounces from impermeable surfaces such as walls and hard storage units, whereas plants are porous to support photosynthesis which also gives them the ability to absorb sound waves from the air. 

A 2021 study conducted by Cambridge University established a link between open-plan office noise and both stress and negative mood. They found that negative mood increased by 25% and sweat response by 34% in participants. 

 

Recruitment 

Biophilic design will not only benefit the wellbeing and retention of current employees and can also help to attract new talent to businesses. Biophilic design sends visual cues about a company’s values and green spaces communicate to workers that their employers care about them and their welfare. 

The Human Spaces report: The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace found that a third of office workers say that the design of an office would affect their decision to work for a company.  

 

Flexible layout 

Plants are useful in creating agile offices which can be adapted to accommodate social distancing, new equipment and furniture, or an increase in capacity. They can also be used to guide employees, attractively divide spaces for different functions, and give areas a sense of privacy.  

Our barrier planters can be supplied with robust castors to allow them to be moved easily or they can be secured in position to prevent them moving. They can be designed to suit any location can be manufactured in any colour to match your branding and there are many options for displaying your logo and other marketing messages. Every location is unique, and our creative design team will work with you to provide an ideal solution.  

 

Green Certifications 

Biophilic design can help to achieve coveted green credentials which now play an increasingly important role in the perceptions of an organization. 

The Enviroculture  planting system is clean, pure, and free from all soil-borne pests and diseases making it ideal for eating areas and restaurants. Every Enviroculture planting installation is rewarded with a Certificate of Environmental Excellence to display to your guests and contributes towards your ISO 14001 accreditation and schemes likes BREEAM. We also offer sustainable container options which are responsibly sourced and manufactured from 100% ecological materials. 

 

Stress-free 

Bringing the benefits of biophilic design to your business doesn’t have to be time consuming, and you can rely on our expertise to help bring your vision to life. We are bursting with creative ideas on how to transform your space, regardless of the setting. Whether you choose to buy or rent from us, our friendly team will take care of the installation and maintenance of your plants minimising any disruption to your business. Use our expertise, so you can focus on yours. 

Conclusion

We now understand biophilic design is more than just visually appealing and having nature in a workplace is significant to influence positive behaviour, promote wellbeing and organizational objectives.  

We have almost thirty years of experience working with office managers, architects, and interior designers to bring biophilic benefits to offices across the UK.  

Blur the lines between the outdoors and indoors. To chat with a member of our team or obtain a free quotation, call us today on 01324 861300   

Categories
Blog

What are the best plants for improving air quality in an office?

Plants are just one of many elements that can determine the quality of air in an office. Air quality is also influenced by other factors such air filtration systems, availability of fresh air, the layout of an office and number of people occupying it. 

Within this article, we will detail the plants that have proven to be most effective whilst also explaining the science and other vital considerations to make. 

Having a healthy pool of employees is critical to any well-run business and absence through illness can be costly. The Office for National Statistics found that minor illnesses, which excludes Coronavirus, accounted for over a quarter of all employee absences in 2020. These minor illnesses include coughs, cold and flu which are often caused by VOCs found in busy indoor spaces which hold a lot of recycled air.  

The levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor areas – US Environmental Protection Agency

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are harmful gasses that are emitted from everyday materials typically found indoors such as paints, disinfectants, air fresheners, and common office appliances like photocopiers and printers. Short term exposure to VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness – with long term exposure potentially having more severe consequences such as liver or kidney damage and even cancer.  

To minimise the occurrence of these illnesses within an office, plants can be used to help remove VOCs from the air whilst simultaneously making an office more aesthetically pleasing. Their effectiveness in purifying the air has been backed by various studies, most famously by NASA’s Clean Air Study in 1989.   

What makes good air quality 

“The average adult, when resting, inhales and exhales about 13kg of air per day. This compares with around 2kg of food and 3kg of fluids we consume yet health advice on breathing is dwarfed by the volume of guidance on what we should eat and drink.” BESA (Building Engineering Services Association) 

Plants alone are not enough to regulate the quality of air in an office and there are a number of measures that should be taken to achieve cleaner air. We also recommend ensuring good standards of ventilation, reducing sources of pollution and using an indoor air quality (IAQ) monitor.   

NASA Clean Air Study  

To combat rising energy costs in the 1970s and 80s, offices were excessively insulated to keep buildings at an optimal temperature. The effect this would have on air quality and therefore the health of those working in offices like this, had not been accounted for leading to the condition that is now known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) being coined. 

To avoid this happening in space, a 1989 NASA study tasked Dr B.C. Wolverton with finding plants that work best to remove harmful toxins from the air.  The aim of the study was to be able to apply these findings in an enclosed environment in space, where there is no opportunity to open a window or use an air filtration system.   

To determine this, several houseplants were monitored to see how well they remove toxins in a sealed chamber. NASA used houseplants as they wanted to test plants that were commonly used in everyday environments. The scientists placed these plants in chambers and pumped in harmful chemicals like ammonia, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, trichloroethylene, and benzene. 

After 24 hours they tested the air quality in each chamber and concluded that some plants were able to remove up to 90% of the harmful chemicals.  

So which plants performed best?

Although every plant used in the study was able to remove at least two of the five VOC groups tested (benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene, ammonia), the following plants were proven to be effective in removing four or more: 

English ivy (Hedera Helix) 

English ivy is a highly versatile plant native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. It can be confined to a small pot indoors or grown on a much larger scale to coat the exterior of a building with trellis panels. English Ivy was able to remove all VOC groups tested apart from ammonia making it one of the top performing plants in the study. 

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 

Originating from the tropical rainforests of Colombia and Venezuela, Peace Lily’s are known for their ability to fight harmful gasses like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. They are helped by their large leaf surface to break down and neutralize complex chemicals cleansing the air. When healthy, elegant white flowers should bloom above a bed of lush green foliage 

Parlour palm (Chamaedorea elegans) 

Parlour palms have been cultivated in the UK since the Victorian era when they were seen as a symbol of wealth and extravagance. The Parlour palm was one of just four plants from the study that was successful in removing all five VOC groups. 

Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) 

The Lady palm was also able to remove all five VOC groups. It is a durable plant with a long lifespan under the correct conditions and does a great job of delivering a tropical look in a small space. 

Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii) 

Strong and robust, the snake plant makes for an ideal office plant. They release oxygen and add moisture to the air, which can alleviate the symptoms of occupational allergens found in an office environment. Of all the plants NASA used in the study, the snake plant had one of the best surface area to chemical removal ratios.  

Red edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) 

Hailing from Madagascar, the Red-edged dracaena’s popularity in households soared as a result of its performance in NASA’s Clean Air study. Often referred to as a Dragon tree, its variegated leaves can add colour to any space.  

Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) 

Named for its resemblance to a corn stalk, this tall and narrow plant makes a great statement piece as a floor plant or when used to complement entrances and doorways. In addition to its air purifying qualities, it can also tolerate areas of low light and is often found in room corners or hallways.  

Janet Craig (Dracaena fragrans) 

Janet Craig has the potential to grow to over 15ft tall but is normally smaller in when grown and pruned indoors. It was able to remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.  

Warneckii (Draecaena Deremensis) 

Warneckii plants are distinctive for their angled, sword-like leaves and can be used in any setting for dramatic effect. Warneckii was able to defend against four of the five VOC groups, scoring particularly highly on its ability to remove benzene.  

“If man is to move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system. Plants.”  Dr. Wolverton. 

Selecting the right plant 

Having no plants is better than having a dead or decaying plant.  

Providing they are healthy and well maintained, all plants will purify the air to some extent. They do this by taking harmful gasses out of the atmosphere and sequestering them in their roots and cells. Some of these chemicals are broken down by fungi in the soil and others are stored in the plant.   

Plants with a larger leaf surface will generally do a better job of eliminating harmful gasses from the air than those with small leaves, and the volume of plants used will make a difference.  

The most important part of using any plant to improve air quality is making sure that it is well maintained and able to thrive in its setting. We can assist with this, providing creative solutions to maximise the potential of your space and a full maintenance service that ensures our plants stay vibrant all year round.  

For more information about office plants: www.benholm.com/corporate

To chat with a member of our team or obtain a free quotation, call us today on 01324 861300