In construction, “biophilia” refers to the way human beings respond positively to nature. It should go without saying that this can mesh well with green office solutions, as companies create spaces that feel organic and reduce environmental impact. Everyone wants to have a high-performing, happy workforce. But what does biophilia really entail, and how can companies reap the benefits? A good first step is to look closely at the materials used for renovation.
The United States Green Building Council reported on the possible benefits of biophilia in an article for their official website. According to Bill Browning of Terrapin Bright Green, who spoke at a recent event hosted by the organization, being exposed to nature can have an instant calming effect on humans, within just five minutes.
Even video or images of nature can help, although the best results come from real views of the outside world. One example the source mentions involves arranging desks so workers can get a better look out of a nearby window. A call center mentioned in the source saved $3,000 for every workstation it adjusted to give users a view outdoors. Other important considerations include the amount of lighting in the office, which can help a space feel more soothing.
Space, Light and Greenery
Biophilia has multiple components that include the building itself and the layout inside. Candice Ball recently wrote about one example in Alberta Construction Magazine: the Mosaic Center for Conscious Community in Edmonton. Ball lists several reasons that the Centre can be considered “biophilic,” such as its natural lighting, use of wood and open space.
“Even though the centre is located in a northern climate and winter may be observed through the windows, the high-performance triple-pane glazing and warm-to-the-touch, non-conductive framing ensures inhabitants feel protected from climate extremes without isolating them from the natural environment outside,” Ball said.
3 Ways Furniture Can Help
We’ve already looked at one way adjusting furniture can make a building more biophilic. Here are some more ideas, based on the key points of biophilic design outlined by Professor Steven Kellert for Metropolis Magazine.
- Collaborative spaces: A biophilic space can involve positive social interactions. In this sense, it shares some factors with the popular “open office,” which works off of a similar idea.
- Natural materials: Indirect exposure to nature can still help promote a biophilic office. As Kellert points out, organic colors, materials and shapes add to a strong natural connection.
- Seamless structure: Kellert noted that it’s not enough to just put something natural into a manmade setting. Instead, it needs to be “connected, complementary, and integrated” with the rest of the space. Recycling used office furniture is great, but each item needs to fit into the surroundings to create the right mood.
Green office solutions can leave an office more productive, while workers get the perks of great sustainable products.