From left-right: Opening Keynote Bill Taylor, Yardi Sustainability Scholars, GPGB speaking team (Jan Goodman, Chuck Carberry, Simon Turner), turn-key bee systems for enhancing biodiversity.




Greetings plant people and biophilic designers,

This June I had the good fortune to receive a Yardi Sustainability Scholarship to attend BOMA International 2022 in Nashville.

For those of you not familiar with BOMA, (Building Owners and Managers Association), the organization’s purpose is to enhance the value of commercial real estate through effective advocacy, education, professional development, and industry networking.

I was partnered with a mentor, the genial Jason McIntyre, LEED AP and director of Real Estate Operations and Sustainability with USAA Real Estate based in San Antonio. Jason generously shared his time, toured the expo pointing out key sustainability products, and answered questions.

Here are 3 takeaways from my BOMA conference experience, followed by my thoughts on how interior landscapers can collaborate with real estate professionals on wellness and sustainability solutions.

OBSERVATION: Building occupant wellness is a priority for the corporate real estate (CRE) industry. 

The importance and value of wellness and well-being in accomplishing many positive outcomes for real estate investors and business owners were expressed frequently and were well-defined. It appeared to be a given that occupant wellness is an industry priority.

OPPORTUNITY: Less present in the sessions was an awareness of the role biophilic design plays in enhancing occupant wellness. Although several speakers made the connection in enthusiastic detail.  (Yay team GPGB! Our presentation was Building Occupant Wellness & Productivity with Biophilic Design”. Here’s a link to our presentation.)

OBSERVATION: The relationship between economic sustainability and occupant well-being is well understood by the CRE industry.  

This was a frequent theme at BOMA and reflects the findings in a 2021 survey of global building owners. Almost 90% of those surveyed plan to enhance their company’s health and wellness strategies. Read more and download the survey in a previous blog about the Rising Demand for Healthy Buildings. 

OPPORTUNITY: Again, the role that biophilic design plays in enhancing well-being and productivity was less frequently expressed. Interior landscapers have an opportunity to share data from Terrapin Bright Green’s The Economics of Biophilia (find it here) and talking points from GPGB’s The Economics of Biophilic Design (find them here).

OBSERVATION: Commercial real estate thought leaders increasingly recognize that climate risk is investment risk. And mitigating that investment risk is now a priority.

Approaches and tools for achieving net-zero buildings, reducing embodied carbon, and enhancing biodiversity were discussed in many sessions over the three days. This focus is partially driven by the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s new ruling that publicly traded companies must report on their company’s ESG (environmental, social, and governmental) goals and metrics. In fact, standardizing these metrics is a growing industry. Private firms and non-profit organizations are developing tools to help standardize ESG scoring so that building investors may compare apples-to-apples when assessing the investment risk attached to properties and portfolios. Green building certification programs like LEED, WELL, Fitwel, and the Living Building Challenge feature in the scoring criteria.

OPPORTUNITY: This urgent ESG priority gives interior landscapers a new opportunity to become valued design partners. Here’s one pathway:

  1. learn how biophilic design fits into various green building certification programs. GPGB’s Registered Trainer course, Biophilic Design in Fitwel, WELL, and the Living Building Challenge is one way to learn more.
  2. learn how those green building certification programs integrate with now-mandated ESG scoring. Find out which certification program your favorite customers are working with and dig into how biophilic design is featured in that program’s certification scorecard.
  3. start demonstrating your understanding of this economic driver for the corporate real estate market in your conversations, on your website, on your socials, and wherever you represent your company.

Take heart. Remember when you discovered that biophilic design was a large, beyond-plants concept? But you studied up, and now biophilic design is deeply integrated into your company’s brand, staff identity, and marketing conversations. Learning about these ESG-related opportunities is just the next step forward. Time to level up!

In all these conversations, whether they are about how biophilic design checks a box on a LEED certification scorecard, or when talking about wellness and productivity benefits of biophilic design, pay attention to how you can be specific. Specificity builds credibility with your clients and builds your self-confidence.

And be especially specific about the role plants play in access to nature and the role that access to nature plays in wellness and productivity.

#StayPlanted and be a catalyst for wellness, 

Mary Golden
Advocacy Incubator       

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