“Highlights Reel” from the research pages –

Resources for Green Building Communicators and the Curious


Hello plant people and biophilic designers, 

Each quarter GPGB shares with you a curated selection of research papers, articles, and survey results. You’ll find them under the education tab on GPGB.org and they have content that helps you communicate the value of biophilic design to your clients and communities.

Recent articles touch upon the impact of biophilic design in hospitals, the thermal impact of living walls, and the impact of access to nature in the workplace.

Here are a few highlights and quotes from some of these resources.

Some compelling benefits are found in “Applying the benefits of biophilic design theory to hospital design”, Simona Tortaforti in City Territ Archit.

“Subsequent international studies have confirmed that 95% of patients and families exposed to direct contact with nature reported lowered stress levels, more positive thoughts, and increased coping ability (Marcus and Barnes 1995).”

“In addition, plants in rooms and rooftop gardens in hospitals improve patients’ psychological response to treatment, with lower levels of pain, anxiety, and fatigue (Park and Mattson 2008; Matsunaga et al. 2011).”

“Fractal structures and more generally, natural patterns and shapes instigate a reduction of stress levels due to the stimulation of mu-opioid receptors, which are responsible for pleasure (Biederman and Vessel 2006).”

“Natural light affects serotonin levels, including a lessened perception of pain in patients. A 22% reduction in the use of analgesics and a 21% drop in healthcare costs were observed. Moreover, natural light has positive effects on patients undergoing chemotherapy (Walch et al. 2005; Liu et al. 2005).”

“Living wall systems for improved thermal performance of existing buildings”, Fox et al. 2021. Building and Environment.

This recent British study found that exterior living walls lowered the heat loss of pre-1970’s uninsulated masonry walls by a whopping 31.4%.

This is a meaningful contribution toward meeting net-zero carbon emission goals by 2050. Here are some statistics to help put the significance of the study’s findings in context. In the UK, space heating accounts for 60% of all energy used in buildings. Masonry walls with cavity systems account for 70% of the UK’s dwellings. And as of 2021, approximately 30% of these buildings have not been retrofitted with cavity insulation. Many of these uninsulated buildings are considered “hard to treat” due to the building features. Exterior living walls provide solutions to some of the features that make buildings “hard to treat.”

The study concludes “the findings suggest that adding a LWS (living wall system) to the façade of an uninsulated cavity masonry wall could be used to lower heat losses in addition to bringing many other benefits, such as increased biodiversity, sound absorption, and reductions in air pollution.”

A joint publication from WELL and Nature Sacred, “Access to nature in the workplace”, Loder and Stoner 2020, contains the following key takeaways related to evidence-based statements “that contact with nature can improve task performance, usually through increased attention and focus.”

“Key measured outcomes for task performance include;

Short-term memory has been found to improve after watching videos of nature*, being exposed to biophilia in the workplace*, and walks in urban gardens*.

Improved concentration has been found after viewing both real nature, such as green roofs* and window views*, and virtual nature, including nature images* and videos*, and taking nature walks.*

Improved task performance has been found after viewing plants*, after a nature retreat*, and in buildings, with 72% of employees indicating that they felt more alert and productive in a building with numerous biophilic elements and gardens*.”

* Please see papers for research citations.

Has this “highlight reel” stimulated your interest in these resources? I hope that you visit the site soon and explore.

Found a paper you think belongs on this resource page? Please share your thoughts and email a pdf or link to maryg@greenplantsforgreenbuildings.org.

Keep Spreading the Word

What can you do to accelerate the demand for plants and nature in the built environment? Share, retweet, and repost GPGB posts on your own social media channels. Include links in your company’s newsletters and blogs. If you are an educator, share the channels with your students.

As always, thank you for reading.

#StayPlanted and be a catalyst for wellness, 

Mary Golden
Advocacy Incubator       

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