While the environmental benefits of green buildings are well established, it’s not always clear or actionable
how sustainability relates to occupant
satisfaction. If you want to improve worker productivity and health, infuse your
building with nature-based elements.
Biophilia is a design philosophy that
encourages the connection between
humans and nature. The guide 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, released by the
sustainability consulting firm Terrapin
Bright Green, highlights approaches that
can reduce occupant stress and increase
creativity. These seven features can be
achieved with cost-effective retrofits:
1) Visual connection with nature – A
view to elements of nature, living systems, and natural processes can be as
simple as a window view or an outdoor
2) Non-visual connection with nature –
Even non-visual experiences such as
calming nature sounds have been shown
to reduce stress and improve cognitive
3) Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli –
Nature sounds such as birds chirping or
calming breezes have shown significant
employee wellness benefits.
4) Thermal and airflow variability –
Small changes in temperature, humidity,
airflow, and surface temperatures can
increase worker comfort, leading to productivity gains.
5) Presence of water – Not only can
features such as waterfalls or fountains
increase concentration, but they also
elevate occupant mood and positive
6) Dynamic and diffuse light – Lighting
that mimics natural sunlight patterns can
help maintain visual comfort and reduce
7) Connection with natural systems –
Variations to match the seasons can help
occupants feel at home and more con-
nected to their environment while also
improving perception of the workplace.
The guide also shows how spatial
patterns and the presence of minimally
processed natural building materials can
evoke a feeling of being in nature.
“New research supports measurable,
positive impacts of biophilic design on
health, strengthening the empirical evidence for the human-nature connection,
and raising its priority level within both
design research and design practice,”
notes the report.
How to Incorporate Biophilia into
Increase occupant engagement with green features
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