Healthy Workplaces: Plantscaping for indoor environmental quality

Smith, Andrew James and Pitt, Michael (2011) Healthy Workplaces: Plantscaping for indoor environmental quality. Facilities, 29 (3/4). pp. 169-187. ISSN 0263-2772

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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the indoor environmental quality benefits of plants in offices by undertaking trials using live plants.

Using two offices in the same building, one with plants and one as a control, daily tests were undertaken for relative humidity, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Results were analysed to identify any differences between the office with plants and the one without.

Relative humidity increased following the introduction of plants and more significantly following additional hydroculture plants being installed, taking it to within the recommended range. Carbon dioxide was slightly higher in the planted office for the majority of the trial although there was an overall reduction in both offices. Carbon monoxide levels reduced with the introduction of plants and again with the additional plants. VOC levels were consistently lower in the non-planted office.

Research Limitations
It would be useful to extend this research in a greater range of buildings and with more flexible VOC monitoring equipment.

Practical Implications
This paper suggests that plants may provide an cost effective method of regulating the indoor environmental conditions within buildings. This can potentially lead to performance gains for the organisation and a reduction in instances of ill-health among the workforce.

The majority of previous studies have relied on laboratory work and experimental chambers. This research aims to apply previous findings to a real working environment to determine whether the air purifying abilities of plants have practical relevance in the workplace.

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