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INTERIOR PLANTS FOR SUSTAINABLE FACILITY ECOLOGY AND WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY. Margaret Burchett Fraser Torpy & Jane Tarran Plants and Indoor Environmental Quality Group Faculty of Science University of Technology, Sydney. Outline. Basics of human ecology Human ecology comes to town

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interior plants for sustainable facility ecology and workplace productivity

INTERIOR PLANTS FOR SUSTAINABLE FACILITY ECOLOGY AND WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY

Margaret Burchett

Fraser Torpy & Jane Tarran

Plants and Indoor Environmental Quality Group

Faculty of Science

University of Technology, Sydney

outline
Outline
  • Basics of human ecology
  • Human ecology comes to town
  • Need for healthy facility ecology
  • Urban problems:
      • Air pollution,
      • Chronic stress, &
      • Scarcity of green oases
  • Urban plantings alleviate problems
  • Values of indoor plants to improve IEQ:
      • Indoor air quality (IAQ)
      • Occupant wellbeing and productivity
  • Urban/indoor plants helping enabling sustainable communities
hunter gatherer diet
‘Hunter/gatherer’ diet

-GATHERING - PLANTS

  • Fruit, including:

-Cereal grains

-Soft fruit (including also most ‘vegetables’)

-Nuts

  • Roots
  • (A few leaves)

-HUNTING - ANIMALS

  • Mammal / bird / fish protein - when hunt was successful
  • And it hasn’t changed much since
human settlement 10 thousand years

Human settlement - 10 thousand years

Planting

Fencing herds

Housing

human plant needs
Human plant needs

For ‘Body’:

  • Food / Drink
  • Fodder / Fences
  • Fuel / Fire
  • Fibre / Ropes
  • Fabrics
  • Remedies (herbals)
  • Shade / Shelter
  • Timber (tools, weapons, buildings, boats)
  • [O2 (lungs of planet) / CO2 & pollution sink]
more human plant needs
More Human plant needs

For ‘Mind and Spirit’:

  • Beauty
  • Perfumes
  • Pleasure & leisure
  • Peace and calm
  • Poetry / mysticallity
  • Piety / spirituality
  • Glimpses of Paradise
slide8

Ancient city-state economies - 3 to 4 thousand years

  • Irrigation
  • Palaces /kings
  • Temples/ priests
  • Religious monuments
  • Leisure

Google images

slide9

The move to ‘metropolis’ - 200 years

(And, air pollution increases!)

towards enabling sustainable urban communities

Towards enabling sustainable urban communities -

Questions:

How well adapted are we

to our ‘urban ecology’?

And/or

How can we adapt ‘urban ecology’

to fulfil our fundamental needs?

pros of urban living

Pros of urban living

Better education

Less strenuous manual labour

More employment

Better public health (sewage & waste disposal)

Much lower mortality from infectious diseases

More available health services

More entertainments

Longer life expectancy

cons of urban living
Cons of urban living
  • Dependence on distant food sources
      • ‘Ecological footprint’ far larger than obvious
      • More additives/preservatives for food ‘keeping’
  • Chronic sedentary diseases
      • Obesity
      • Diabetes
      • Cardiovascular dysfunctions
  • Mental health problems
      • Stress
      • Depression
      • Violence Air
  • Air pollution health risks
  • ‘Nature / Plant / Escape / Restoration’ - deprivation
continued need of links with nature

Continued need of links with ‘nature’

‘Location, location, location!’

Property values

Who get the offices with the window views?

Most popular ‘family’ websites: -Gardening

-Fishing

-Weekend get-away info

-(Recipes! Food, glorious food)

slide14

Urban air quality- the situation

  • 80% Australians live in cities
  • Urban air quality is a health concern
  • Air pollution kills ~1,400 p.a. in Sydney
  • Spend ~90% of our time indoors
  • Indoor air quality is a health concern - and
  • Indoor air pollution is ~always higher than outdoors
outdoor urban air pollutants
Outdoor urban air pollutants

From burning fossil fuels-

-Primary emission products

-Carbon oxides (CO2) (CO)

-Nitrogen oxides (NOx)

-Sulfur oxides (SOx)

-Metals

-Air toxics - ie organics (‘BTEX’, PAHs)

-Fine particulates’(PM10 / 2.5)

-Secondary (photochemical)

-More NOx

-Ozone (O3)

-Peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN)

-Smog/haze

urban air pollution health risks
Urban air pollution health risks

Short-term

  • Asthma
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sudden infant death syndrome

Long-term

  • Low birth weights
  • Some cancers
  • Other cardiovascular problems
  • Mental illnesses

NY / www.pollutionissues.com

slide17

Indoor air pollution

Outdoor pollution load plus -

Sometimes-

-More NOx, SOx & CO (with gas appliances)

Generally-

-Higher CO2 levels

Always-

-House dust

-Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

from:

-furniture, fabrics, fittings

-paints, glues

-computers, printers

-solvents, detergents

-shampoos, cosmetics; etc.

(www.morganlovell.co.uk / m3mary.com / dragonflyoffice.co.uk)

added risks from indoor air pollution

Added risks from indoor air pollution

Can cause ‘Sick -building syndrome’-

VOCs - even at imperceptible levels, can cause-

-Short-term

-Loss of concentration

-Headaches, ‘Woozy-head’

-Dry eyes, nose, throat

-Nausea

-Long-term

-Chronic health problems - as for outdoor sources

Elevated CO2

-Stuffiness, drowsiness, loss of concentration

slide19

Indoor plants improve IAQ -

Reducing levels of-

-NOx

-SOx

- Air toxics and VOCs

-Dust

Stabilising

-Humidity

-Temperature

-Noise

Hence helping improve

-Staff wellbeing

-Productivity (reduction in sick leave)

test design
Test design
  • Eleven plant species
  • Four VOCs

-Benzene, toluene, xylene, n-hexane

  • Test conditions

- Continuous light

- Initial dose

- Daily top-up doses

- VOC disappearance rates measured

- Continuous dark - rate effects?

- Doubled dose - rate effects?

- Plant removed, potting-mix tested

test chamber findings
Test-chamber findings
  • Rate of VOC removal accelerates after initial dose
  • After 4-5 d >10 times initial rates
  • Once ‘induced’, top-up doses removed in ~24 h
  • Works as well in light or dark (24/7)
  • With low or high doses
  • Potting-mix bacteria main removal agents
  • Plant roots nourish pot-mix microorganisms
  • So - removal depends on ‘plant-potting-mix microcosm’
  • All species tested work equally well
ok but what about the real world
OK -But -what about the real-world?

Our office field-study

Design

  • 3 UTS buildings (2 with & 1 without air-conditioning)
  • Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ & Spathiphyllum ‘Sweet Chico’
  • 3 planting regimes (+ ‘reference’ offices - 0 plants)
  • Two 5-9 week sampling periods
  • Total 60 offices (12 per treatment)
office study weekly samplings
Office study - weekly samplings
  • Measured-

-Total VOCs (TVOCs)

-Temperature

-Humidity

-Carbon dioxide (CO2)

-Carbon monoxide (CO)

  • Passive monitors identifed-

-Individual VOCs

office voc findings summary
Office VOC findings - summary
  • No-plants - TVOC loads ~80-400 ppb
  • When TVOCs rose >100 ppb-

any planting reduced levels to <100 ppb

  • Worked as well + air conditioning
  • 3 plants as effective as 6; so:-
  • Minimum needed is less than we used
  • No jungle needed to reduce TVOCs
co 2 and co removal mechanisms

CO2 and CO removal - mechanisms

Green plants make their own food out of CO2

6CO2 + 6H2O **light energy** → (C6H12O6) + 6O2

& chlorophyll Sugar

Plants & potting-mix microorganisms:

-Also absorb and use CO

office study co 2 co removal
Office study - CO2 &CO removal

Effects of 3 Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’, + air-conditioning. (Outdoor CO2 ~ 370 ppm)

urban plants for wellbeing and productivity

Urban plants for wellbeing and productivity

Plant physio-psychological benefits

In urban green-spaces (oases)

Views from the window

Bringing the plants inside

how nearby plants work for wellbeing
How nearby plants ‘work’ for wellbeing

Research by Kaplan & Kaplan (1993) found that:

  • Plants relieve ‘attention fatigue’, and thus-
  • Provide a ‘restorative environment’-
  • By providing 4 qualities:
    • Attracting ‘effortless attention’ ( or ‘fascination’)
    • Feelings of temporary ‘awayness’ or ‘escape’
    • ‘Extendingscope’ of consciousness
    • ‘Flowing with one’s inclinations’ (of rest, calm)

www.amazon.co.uk

healing benefits of plant views
Healing benefits of plant views

Moore (1981) -Prisoners:

  • Showed less disruptiveness
  • Requested less medication

Ulrich (1984) - surgical patients:

  • Left hospital ~2 days earlier
  • Fewer painkillers
  • Savings - $ millions
benefits of indoor plants
Benefits of indoor plants

www.superplants.co.uk

health benefits of indoor plants
Health benefits of indoor plants

Various studies show:

  • Coughing & fatigue down 37%
  • Ear, nose and throat symptoms down 23%
  • Sick-leave down from 15.9 to 5.6% ( >60% reduction)
  • Children’s sick-leave down in primary classroom
  • Perception of pain reduced
  • Blood pressure reduced
  • Anxiety, depression, hostility reduced
  • Perceptions of calm and pleasure increased

All these effects mean:

        • Better health for occupants
        • Significantly improved productivity
performance benefits of indoor plants
Performance benefits of indoor plants

Studies show better performance on tests:

  • Computer manipulations
  • Card-sorting tasks
  • Creative thinking on test words
  • Only a few moments ‘rest’ on plant remedied ‘attention fatigue’

These effects mean:

-Enhanced job performance

-Less fatigue

-Better job satisfaction

-Improved productivity

effects of indoor plants on business image
Effects of indoor plants on‘Business Image’

Study with170 respondents-

All agreed indoor plants give perception that business is:

  • Warm and welcoming
  • Stable and balanced
  • Well-run
  • Comfortable to work with
  • Patient and caring
  • Concerned for staff welfare
  • Prepared to spend money on added beauty
  • Not mean
  • Providing a healthier, cleaner atmosphere

These effects mean smoother business, better sales

cost benefit analysis of indoor plants
Cost-benefit analysis of indoor plants

Approximate Costs $ p.a

Scenario 1

  • 1 floor plant 200
  • 1 new staff member 50,000
  • If plant gives -> 12%
  • inc. in productivity 6,000
  • Staff member now worth 56,000
  • (Or, provide 30 more plants)

Scenario 2

  • Plant brings retention of-
  • 1 staff member - so
  • Save cost of hiring/training

new one - > 5,000

  • (Or, provide 20 more plants)
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Healthy ‘facility ecology’ must-
  • Enable and encourage continued human/plant linkages
  • Indoor plants represent an:

-adaptive, self-regulating

-portable, flexible

-relatively low-cost

-sustainable, beautiful

-biofiltration and biorestoration system

for healthy facility ecology

  • Helping satisfy the ‘triple bottom line’ of:

-environmental

-social, &

-economic considerations

  • Towards the goal of ‘enabling sustainable communities’
acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

External funding support

*National Interior Plantscape Association (NIPA)

*Horticulture Australia Ltd (HAL)

*Rentokil Tropical Plants

*The Container Connection

UTS colleagues

*Ms G Armstrong, Mr J Brennan

*(Former colleagues Drs R Wood, R Orwell)

species uts lab tested to date

Species UTS lab-tested to date

Aglaonema modestum

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’

Dracaena marginata

Howea forsteriana (Kentia palm)

Epipremnum aureum (Pothos)

Philodendron ‘Congo’

Sansevieria trifasciata (Mother-in-law’s tongue)

Schefflera ‘Amate’ (Qld. Umbrella Tree)

Spathiphyllum ‘Petite’ (Peace Lily)

Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’

Zamioculcas zamiifilia (Zanzibar)