As concerns about climate change and environmental degradation continue to grow, individuals and organizations increasingly look for ways to reduce their impact on the planet. While many solutions focus on large-scale initiatives such as renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, there are also smaller-scale actions that individuals can take to help make a difference. One of these actions is greening our urban space through biophilic design.
Biophilic design is a design philosophy that seeks to incorporate natural elements into built environments to promote health, well-being, and productivity. This approach is based on the idea that humans have an innate connection to nature and that exposure to natural elements can have positive effects on our physical and mental health.
In urban environments, where people may be disconnected from nature, biophilic design can play an important role in creating more livable and sustainable cities. By incorporating natural elements such as plants, water features, and natural light into buildings, parks, and other public spaces, biophilic design can help to create a more restorative environment that supports health and well-being.
Some of the key principles of biophilic design include:
Connection to nature: The goal of biophilic design is to create a sense of connection to the natural world, even in urban environments. This can be achieved through the use of natural materials, such as wood and stone, and through the incorporation of living plants and other natural elements into the built environment.
Natural light: Access to natural light is important for human health and well-being. Biophilic design seeks to maximize natural light in buildings, while also minimizing glare and other negative effects.
Views of nature: Views of nature, such as parks, greenery, and bodies of water, can have positive effects on mental health and cognitive performance. Biophilic design seeks to incorporate views of nature into built environments whenever possible.
Patterns of nature: Nature is characterized by patterns such as fractals, which are visually appealing and have a calming effect on the human brain. Biophilic design seeks to incorporate these patterns into built environments to promote relaxation and well-being.
Water features: Water features such as fountains, waterfalls, and ponds can have a calming effect on the human brain and promote relaxation and well-being. Biophilic design seeks to incorporate water features into built environments to create a more restorative environment.
In urban environments, biophilic design principles can be used to create more sustainable and livable cities. By incorporating natural elements into buildings, parks, and other public spaces, cities can create a more restorative environment that supports health and well-being. Additionally, biophilic design can help to reduce the urban heat island effect by providing shade and cooling through vegetation and water features. Overall, biophilic design is an important tool for promoting a more sustainable and livable urban environment.
Indoor Plant Benefits
Houseplants are beautiful and easy to care for and can also play a significant role in promoting a more sustainable future. From improving air quality to promoting well being, houseplants offer a range of environmental benefits that can help individuals and communities to reduce their ecological footprint and support a healthier planet.
Houseplants have been shown to improve indoor air quality by removing benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. One study conducted by NASA found that certain houseplants, such as spider plants and peace lilies, were effective at helping remove pollutants from the air.
However, it is essential to note that the effectiveness of houseplants in improving air quality depend on several factors, such as the type of plant, the size of the room, and the level of pollutants present. It's unlikely a handful of pot plants in your home will clean the air. Instead, we need to fundamentally change to our urban spaces to support more plant life indoors and outdoors through Biophilic design.
Reducing carbon dioxide levels: Houseplants absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, which can help reduce the amount of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. While the impact of houseplants on global carbon dioxide levels may be small, every little bit counts when it comes to fighting climate change.
Additionally, some studies have suggested that the carbon sequestration potential of indoor plants may be greater than previously thought. For example, a study conducted by the University of Technology Sydney found that a single large indoor plant could sequester up to 1.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year. While this may not seem like a significant amount, it is still a positive contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing energy use: Plants can help regulate indoor temperatures by absorbing heat and providing shade. This can reduce the need for air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter, which can help lower energy bills and reduce carbon emissions. In addition, plants can also help improve the insulation properties of buildings by reducing heat loss through windows and walls. This can further reduce the need for heating and cooling, which can have a positive impact on both the environment and energy costs.
Enhancing mental health: Houseplants have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health by reducing stress and anxiety and improving mood. This can help promote well-being and a sense of connectedness with the natural world. One study conducted by the University of Exeter found that people who had plants in their homes reported lower levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not. Additionally, the presence of plants has been shown to improve cognitive function and increase productivity in work environments.
Promoting environmental education: Houseplants can also play an important role in promoting environmental education, particularly for children who may not have access to natural spaces or opportunities to learn about biodiversity. By providing a tangible connection to the natural world, houseplants can help children develop an appreciation for the environment and a deeper understanding of the role that plants play in promoting a healthy planet.
Research has shown that exposure to nature can have a range of positive benefits for children, including improved cognitive function, reduced stress and anxiety, and increased physical activity. Additionally, teaching children about the importance of biodiversity and the role that plants play in maintaining healthy ecosystems can help foster critical thinking skills and promote a sense of environmental responsibility.
In urban environments where access to natural spaces may be limited, houseplants can provide an important opportunity for children to learn about and connect with the natural world. By incorporating plants into educational programs and activities, educators and parents can help promote environmental literacy and inspire a new generation of environmental stewards.
In the UK, the government has recently launched a new initiative called "Green Cities," which aims to promote the use of green infrastructure to help make cities more sustainable and resilient. As part of this initiative, the government has mandated that every UK resident should be within a five-minute walk of a green space, such as a park or a tree-lined street. This initiative recognizes the important role that green spaces play in promoting physical and mental well-being, reducing air pollution, and supporting biodiversity.
In addition to promoting the use of public green spaces, the Green Cities initiative also encourages individuals to incorporate green elements into their homes and workplaces, such as rooftop gardens, living walls, and indoor plants. By creating more green spaces in cities and promoting the use of plants and other green infrastructure, the UK government hopes to create a more sustainable and livable urban environment for all residents. This initiative highlights the growing recognition among policymakers and city planners of the importance of promoting sustainable, nature-based solutions to environmental challenges.
Overall, while houseplants may not be a panacea for saving the planet, they can certainly play a role in promoting a healthier, more sustainable world. By improving indoor air quality, reducing carbon emissions, promoting biodiversity, lowering energy use, and enhancing mental health, houseplants can help contribute to a more sustainable future.
Incorporating houseplants into your biophilic design project can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your space while also providing numerous benefits for your health and wellbeing. Houseplants can help purify the air, reduce stress levels, and boost productivity. When selecting plants, consider the lighting conditions and temperature of your space to ensure the plants will thrive. Also, think about the size and shape of the plants in relation to the room's layout and other design elements. By carefully choosing and arranging houseplants, you can create a harmonious and inviting space that brings the beauty and serenity of nature indoors. Check out our full range here