Outer Space versus Office Space

Why do we need office plants?

Part of the answer comes from… Outer Space!

To understand what is behind the known benefits of plants for offices, we looked at the research NASA conducted during the 1970’s. They were looking for sustainable ways to maintain good air quality in a sealed space station to lengthen the amount of time people could live there.  At the same time, they were concerned with the effects of the energy crunch upon building designs and could see a parallel application in the office environments of that era. Building designs were becoming more energy efficient to cut costs and this was having the negative effect of reducing fresh air exchange due to super-insulation (air-tight sealing).

Modern synthetic building materials can cause a build-up of toxins in the air, combined with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are things like benzene (found in some plastics and cigarette smoke) and formaldehyde (found in some fabric softeners and carpet cleaners). This contributed to what became known as Sick Building Syndrome which resulted in increased absenteeism as a direct result of poor working conditions.

About the same time (the 1980’s in fact), Dr. B.C. Wolverton (NASA) was conducting research into plants for a different use. He discovered that some plants were able to filter and clean the air in a sealed space such as a space station, and many of the most effective species were very ordinary and common ones. And if it’s good enough for a space station.

“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.

Office planting can improve the air quality in the working environment and help reduce absenteeism.

You don’t have to be an astronaut to know that plants produce oxygen. But what you might not realize is that office plants can also absorb Carbon Dioxide as well as those VOC’s mentioned above. Dr. Wolverton’s research also showed that rooms containing plants had 50% to 60% less airborne microbes, like mould spores and bacteria. The results he obtained were significant and are still relevant today!

“This plant system is one of the most promising means of alleviating the Sick Building Syndrome associated with many new, energy efficient buildings.”

– Dr. Wolverton

Fortunately, building standards have improved, but the benefits associated with office plants are not to be underestimated.  Ensure your staff are comfortable and promote overall well-being in your workplace by introducing office plants. Because if it will work for astronauts, it is bound to work for you!

Office plants can improve air quality and enhance staff well-being in workplace environment.

If you would like to discuss some ideas on plants for offices, please reach out to us on Freephone 08000 724723 or send us a message.

Contact us to find out how plants can help you.

Baker Hicks office entrance feature panelled timber wall with Nordik Moss and trough in foreground filled with succulents
Planted screens with uniform Dracaena Compacta plants in white containers create biophilic divisions in Audi car showroom
Single living wall panel filled with plant species on divide and separate open plan space in a modern office

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