The Impact of a Living Greenwall on Student Attitudes, Moods, & Academic Performance

A big thank you and congratulations to the students from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls for their hard work. Please add this info-graphic to your digital tool box and share with everyone!
School infograhpic


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The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace

For you digital tool box and to share with others, here is a nice info-graphic created by Humanspaces on The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace!

Office Infographic


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Introduction to Biophilic Design & The WELL Building Standard [Infographic]

What is biophilia or biophilic design anyway?

We created this high-level infographic in partnership with NewPro Containers to help explain biophilic design and the WELL Building Standard. To find more in-depth research on these subjects, please visit our resources page.

Biophilic Design


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7 Smart Tips to Managing Multiple Offices

Managing Multiple Offices

Many companies today have more than one office that they sell from or operate out of. While this can certainly help grow the business, that growth can sometimes be painful if not managed correctly.

These seven smart tips will help keep you on track as you expand your geographic base from just one location.

Michael Lewis for NewPro Containers plantscaping & industry specific blog – April 29, 2015

These seven smart tips will help keep you on track as you expand your geographic base from just one location.


The chain of command becomes more important as the business grows – especially if the manager of the new location started out as a manager in the home office. Often it is the owner who’s the boss, but there needs to be a defined chain of command for who has the authority to tell folks in the new office what to do.


Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a basic foundation for any expanding business. Not only do they simplify things so employees don’t have to be constantly told what to do, they allow best practices to be developed and followed throughout all offices.


Communication is key – as the old saying goes – and it is true! So many times with a rapidly expanding business the right hand – or office – doesn’t know what the other is doing. This can result in duplication of work, errors, and unhappy customers. Communication is also a good way to keep people motivated and foster a company philosophy that everyone can understand and buy into. There are many technology applications out there that can allow you to have real time video conferencing anywhere in the country so check them out.


It’s very important for you to have an accurate method of tracking all costs and expenses associated with each location individually. It doesn’t make sense to run a location that is losing money – especially if that’s the bottom line before any general overhead expenses are added in.


Sharing P&Ls with your managers in a great way to get them to buy in to the profit game plan – especially if you have some form of profit sharing set up for them. Empowerment can also be accomplished across the board by encouraging all employees to offer up money saving suggestions or new ideas to better service your customers. It’s amazing how a simple creative idea can grow into a powerful shift of a company SOP, which may not only improve the bottom line, but also generate a sense of pride on the part of the idea creator!


Whether amongst managers or rank and file employees, it’s important for people to have a chance to bounce ideas off of each other, share horror stories, or just share in each other’s lives. Most small businesses are just big extended families, so it’s good to foster a caring environment amongst your staff.


All work and no play makes for a dull person – another old saying (I must be old!) – and there is some truth to that. It’s important for folks to be able to let off some steam either at office events or during out of office gatherings from time to time. A happy employee, who feels they are liked and appreciated, goes a long way in dealing with the retention issue we all face with good employees. So loosen up and have some fun with them!

See Mike’s blog here.

Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis is Executive Vice President and Sales Manager for Foliage Design Systems. He has owned and operated numerous interior landscape companies during his 35 years in the industry and is actively involved in business development for the company. He is also a past President of Green Plants for Green Buildings.

Nature in Space


Joe Zazzera, a guest blogger for Terrapin Bright Green, gives us a historical background on the use of “Nature in the Space” biophilic design patterns in interior spaces.

Terrapin Bright Green – The Blog; April 20, 2015

Nature in the Space

“Nature in the Space” in biophilic terms means any design interventions that forge a direct, physical and ephemeral presence of nature in a space or place. One of the most significant “Nature in the Space” design patterns is Visual Connection with Nature (outlined in the 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, published by Terrapin Bright Green in 2014). Some of the design strategies included in this pattern are potted plants, flowerbeds, courtyard gardens, green walls and green roofs. Plants in ancient times were first used for nutritional and medicinal purposes; the first known decorative use of plants was about 3,000 years ago by Egyptians. Not much is known about decorative use until the Victorian age when the English began to propagate plants in greenhouses. By the mid 1800s, indoor gardening had become a popular hobby in the United States and corporate greenery “Interiorscape” programs were first introduced in the late 1950s. Biophilia is the driving factor behind promoting views of nature indoors, whether it is a potted plant in an office, or a lobby atrium complete with water and fish. Until the last 15 years there was very little scientific evidence, some people simply intuited the need for nature in the space where we work and live.


Everett Conklin was one of the early pioneers that brought plants into commercial interiors. Conklin and his New Jersey company, Everett Conklin and Company, installed their first large scale interior landscape in New York City’s Four Seasons Restaurant in the early 1960s. A little later the Ford Foundation, CBS Building, and Rockefeller Center became corporate clients. These early corporate installations were the beginning of the interior plantscaping industry that we know today.

Before there was any notable research science, Conklin stated that there is a “primal association” with plants and flowers, that they aren’t luxuries but requirements of our biological heritage, that we need them in order to be happy. In 1972 Conklin published “Man and plants-a primal association” in American Nurseryman Magazine, where he posited his theory that man was genetically programmed to be near and around green, growing plants. During the same period, Conklin presented to the American Society of Horticultural Science and stated that the man-flora link was innate.

Evolution of Plants Indoors

With the popularization of planting indoors in the 60s and 70s, architects, designers, and builders began incorporating well-lit atriums and lobbies into their designs. The indoor plant industry flourished until energy became more costly and a greater concern for commercial building owners. Due to the energy crisis, the late 1970s and 80s saw the design and construction of many tightly sealed buildings with very little day lighting or provisional plant lighting. The result was less plants and more sick buildings due to trapped VOCs.

One of the greatest challenges to maintaining indoor plant health is lighting. The absence of adequate lighting creates a slow death for any healthy plant. Conklin believed the secret to successful indoor plant care was acclimating plants to lower light levels prior to installation. This is a process which reduces the light level that a plant is grown under over a period of time, typically 12 weeks to 6 months. This practice created by Conklin is still used by quality plant growers today.

Along Comes Wolverton

Dr. Bill Wolverton had a long career as a research scientist at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. When over 100 airborne chemicals contaminated Sky Lab 3, Wolverton was asked to look for common ways to filter contaminants. He chose tropical plants as a potential strategy to solve the air quality problem. Wolverton studied the extent to which plants filter air by growing them in chambers filled with various VOCs while testing the air quality over time gradients. In his experiments, he was able to observe the effectiveness of specific plants at chemical removal. Wolverton’s studies found that the plants purified the air in the chambers. In addition, Wolverton also found that the plants were able to filter air in less time when contaminants were re-injected into the chambers, and that soil microbes also remove pollutants through breakdown. Wolverton’s first published research was in 1984, and in 1989 NASA published his report on interior landscape plants and indoor air pollutant abatement. Although there has been some debate on the quantity and scale on how to make plants an effective indoor bio-filter, Wolverton’s research set a course for future scientific research.

Nature in the Space Research Continues

Since 1984 there have been many additional technical papers and publications citing the effects of exposure to nature, including works by Tove Fleld, Virginia Lohr, and the landmark study by Roger Ulrich on the health benefits of nature views in hospitals. Validating our intuition with scientific evidence continues to support what many of us instinctively know: nature in the space can recharge us, make us more productive and lead to greater happiness. Since we are a society motivated by economics, the costs and return on investment of incorporating nature in the built environment is an important focus. The publication The Economics of Biophilia (Terrapin Bright Green, 2012) challenges our assumptions about cost and value. In a review of a series of studies, including one that deduced that 10% of employee absences could be attributed to architecture that had no connection with nature, the paper concludes that we can no longer ignore the financial benefits of including living nature and other biophilic elements in the built environment.

Future Cities

Bringing together wellness and economic studies of nature in the space is having a profound effect on how we create our home and working environments. As our cities become more populated, the need to create indoor nature connections will become an imperative in everything we design. The health and wellness of our collective future depend on it.

Joe Zazzera, an Interior Landscape and Living Wall designer, is the founding principal of Plant Solutions. He is President of Green Plants For Green Buildings, a 501c3 whose mission is to communicate the benefits of nature in the built environment. A Biomimicry Specialist, he is interested in the crossovers between biophilia, biomimicry and the functional integration of nature in the built environment. Images courtesy of Joe Zazzera.

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Buildings That Bond Us To Nature: The WELL Building Standard is here

Jim Mumford, GRP, CLP; owner, Good Earth Plant Company and Greenscaped Buildings, San Diego, California (

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard is a familiar source of pride and brand marketing for office buildings, hotels, schools, and community projects. In 14 years, the LEED green building certification system has become the standard for energy-saving, cost-efficient building in the United States and abroad.

People who have not considered themselves all that “green” are now thinking more seriously about ways green building practices can improve health and well-being. Access to daylight, outdoor views, active design, improved air exchange, and better materials choices are the norm when designing and constructing new buildings.

I am a board member and supporter of Green Plants for Green Buildings (GPGB.Org). I became a board member one year ago as a means to advocate for its mission to communicate the aesthetic, environmental, productivity and health benefits of plants in the built environment. Lack of recognition of nature connections indoors is the one glaring omission of the LEED standard.

An area of interest and concern is integrating the higher concept of Biophilia, the natural bond between humans and nature, into shaping our everyday environment. Our hope is that people will continue to recognize why humans need nature in their everyday lives; creating optimal mental and physical health.

When I first heard about the new WELL building standard, I thought, “Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for!” Last October the GPGB board sent me as its representative to the first annual WELL program, which was in conjunction with the U.S. Green Building Council GreenBuild event in New Orleans. I left enthusiastic about WELL’s potential for revolutionizing our industry.

The WELL Building Standard® doesn’t compete with the LEED standard. Instead, it works seamlessly and adds thoughtful new building design considerations focused on a different goal.

In October 2014, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) publicly released version 1.0 of the WELL Building Standard, marking a momentous step in our efforts to bring health and wellness into indoor environments. According to IWBI Founder Paul Scialla, “Through the launch of WELL v1.0, we are creating a clear intersection for the wellness, sustainability, and real estate communities to come together to support human health through the built environment globally.”

The WELL Building Standard® includes seven specific categories that encompass conditions which enhance the health and well-being of building occupants, holistically integrated into building architecture and design: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.

The WELL Building Standard is third-party certified through IWBI’s collaboration with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) , the certification body that administers the LEED Green Building Rating System. The IWBI awards certification at one of three levels: Silver, Gold or Platinum, similar to the different levels of LEED. WELL recognizes the importance of adding living plants to interior spaces. Indoor potted plants and vertical gardens or walls are specifically called for as part of the certification standards.

One of the important qualities of WELL is that it is grounded in solid science. WELL is the culmination of seven years of medical research and collaboration with leading doctors, scientists, architects and other wellness professionals. A few of the visionary world leaders supporting the WELL Standard include Deepak Chopra, former Congressman Richard Gephardt, sustainability activist and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as leading physicians from the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics.

Last October, the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscape in Pittsburgh became the first institution in the world to achieve WELL Platinum Pilot Certification. To date, nearly eight million square feet of projects have been registered or certified through WELL.

GPGB is leading the way by leveraging our green network to collaborate with other industry organizations to put plants in every room. We provide the highest-level education to 14 professional associations in the U.S. and Canada about the value of live plants and connections to nature in the built environment. GPGB will continue to lead the way by embracing and promoting the WELL Building Standard®.

To support the GPGB Mission or make a donation, please go here.

Connecting the Dots

What do evidence-based design, improved outcomes, and the ACA have in common? Three case studies illustrate the link among them

By Jane Rohde, AIA, FIIDA, ACHA, AAHID, LEED AP, Green Globes CIEB Assessor in Interiors & Sources Feb 2015.

“Capture natural light and views of nature at an urban edge”

Each year at the Healthcare Design Conference there is a pre-conference session dedicated to coaching healthcare systems professionals, providers, design practitioners, educators, contractors, and other key players interested in learning or further developing an evidence-based design (EBD) process. The recommendation is always to start with what you know and grow the process appropriately depending upon the project and desired outcomes. Although the process is consistent, the priorities and benchmarks may vary greatly across project types.

However, in evaluating opportunities when establishing baselines for outcomes—which has always been a tenet of EBD—there is the necessity for measuring these improvements because they are tied to reimbursements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is an important intersection between EBD and the ACA because evaluating these priorities can result not only in increased efficiencies and reduced costs, but also improved medical outcomes.

The following three case studies demonstrate an EBD approach based on varying goals and project requirements, and they also take new ACA requirements into consideration.

In May 2012, Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS) opened a new 238-bed, 575,000-square-foot, non-profit acute care hospital as part of the University Medical Center located in Plainsboro, N.J. This Pebble Project consisted of a patient bed tower, a diagnostic and treatment building, an administration and education building, and an onsite co-generation plant that supports the hospital. The Center for Health Design utilizes the Pebble Project to assist clients with utilizing research to not only make informed decisions, but also to provide a framework for completing benchmarks and research within a healthcare setting to sustain continued improvement.

The vision for this project was to build one of the finest hospitals in the U.S. that would support and encourage outstanding clinical care, provide the most-advanced technology, and demonstrate commitment to the community by incorporating sustainable design and function.

Barry Rabner, PHCS president and CEO, along with the trustees hired Navigant to help manage the project and two architectural firms, HOK and RMJM Hillier, as part of the design team. As a participant in the Pebble Project, the decision-making process was led by the program’s guiding principles, which include the use of EBD for enhanced patient safety; the development of environments conducive to healing; ranking in the top 10 percent of U.S. hospitals for patient satisfaction; embracing patient-centered care concepts; and optimizing operational efficiency with related cost reductions. Flexible design was also adopted with the unusual caveat that included building 150 percent of the current project need to allow for expansion.

Under Rabner’s direction, every detail of the new hospital—from safety features to patient and family comfort to maximizing staff efficiency—was thoroughly researched. In working with the Center for Health Design, there was a review of approximately 1,200 articles of design research, feedback from staff and administration at 15 other hospitals, and multiple focus groups of stakeholders and patients.

Likewise, Salvatore Associates and CAMA, Inc. recently completed a new Adult Emergency Environment of Care for Yale-New Haven Hospital located in New Haven, Conn. It utilized an interdisciplinary design team that was guided by the following EBD objectives:

  • Reduce patient and visitor stress
  • Reduce wait times and improve flow
  • Improve staff sightlines—both from a security and clinical care point of view
  • Capture natural light and views of nature at an urban edge

Biophilia, Biomimicry & Trends in University Curricula


January 17, 2015

Terrapin Bright Green – The Blog

Recently, I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker for graduate students of Architecture at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. The lecture is part of a semester-long course on “Biophilia, Biomimicry and Bioculture”, facilitated by architect and professor Robin Randell of Legat Architects. In preparation for the lecture and discussion, students had read “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design” and had prepared a series of questions. We discussed at length popular research areas, low cost interventions, and some of the opportunities and challenges of implementing biophilic design.

Courses like this are indicative of a growing trend in university curricula and programming. Teachings in biophilia and biomimicry are evolving from one-off lectures to instructional courses and even interdisciplinary degree programs. In the United States, UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment and the University of Vermont’s program in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment each have courses on biophilia, and the American Society for Interior Designers (ASID) anticipates their online continuing education course on the 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design will be available this spring. Meanwhile, the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture is issuing grants to help “promote and advance knowledge that links neuroscience research to a growing understanding of human responses to the built environment;” the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture is home to the Biophilic Cities Network; and Harvard University’s Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) has facilitated projects like the Natural Environments Initiative to advance the research on biophilia.

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2015 Interior Design Trend Report

Six style and color trends that will dominate 2015 interior design.

Gain access to interior design trend predictions for the upcoming new year. Unique insight to the color and style trends that will dominate 2015 will make a difference in keeping your existing customers excited about their interiorscapes and winning new clients who are looking for fresh, new decor. In the 2015 Interior Design Trends Report, you will find some researched predictions on style changes the new season will bring as well as current style trends will have staying power in 2015. Published November 2014 by NewPro Containers.

Become a part of the plantscaping community at NewPro and download your copy.

Living Green Wall to be Installed in UW-River Falls Classroom

Living Green Wall to be Installed in UW-River Falls Classroom

September 8, 2014 –The University of Wisconsin-River Falls has been awarded a grant from the National Foliage Foundation to install a living green wall of foliage plants in one of the classrooms in the Agricultural Science building on campus. Living vertical green wall systems are a relatively recent development. Because the systems are clean and have a self-sustaining automated irrigation system, they offer an opportunity to integrate green plants in places with limited space such as classrooms.

Horticulture Professor Terry Ferriss, psychology Professor Travis Tubre, and David Trechter, professor of agricultural economics and director of the UWRF Survey Research Center collaborated on this proposal.

The group will test for empirical evidence that the presence of a living green wall benefits students and instructors in an academic setting. Undergraduates will be involved in multiple aspects of the project including wall design and installation, survey development and implementation, and data analysis.

McCaren Designs of Minneapolis is providing the wall panel system at a discount and will work with students to develop a plant design that will be successful at the classroom site. Additional support for the project is being provided by the Green Plants for Green Building Association and the UWRF College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

It is anticipated that the green wall system will be installed in January 2015, during the semester break on campus.

For more information, contact Laura Walsh at 715-425-3535 or email