Major Refurbishment to Assess Impact of Nature on the Workplace

The concept of biophilic design – taking inspiration from nature for the built environment – has become more popular as employers look for ways to improve staff wellbeing and morale. Workplace designers are now less inclined to focus on quirky features associated with Silicon Valley, such as bean bags and pool tables, and more concerned with introducing natural light and improving air quality.

Now research group BRE is launching a major biophilic office project, to provide clear evidence of the extent to which these principles can affect health, wellbeing and productivity.

The group will spend a year performing tests that include health evaluations and surveys of office occupants in a 1980s building on its Watford campus. The building will then be refurbished according to biophilic design principles, which are likely to include the introduction of more natural light and ventilation, as well as vegetation.

Rewards for Landlords

BRE will then spend another year investigating differences in health and productivity levels. “The project will show how quantified improvements in productivity and wellness can bring rewards for landlords, occupiers, developers and all those concerned with the office and wider built environment,” said Ed Suttie, research director at BRE.

“Researchers will carry out a baseline year of pre-refurbishment and a year of post-refurbishment monitoring, evaluating the office environment for daylight, lighting, indoor air quality, acoustic, thermal and humidity comfort.”

Practical Guidance

One of the main objectives of the study is to provide practical, evidence-based guidance for architects, contractors and designers, so it could have a major impact on the future of workplace design and refurbishment.

Although this is the first research project of its kind, there is of course extensive evidence that better indoor air quality can improve physical and mental wellbeing. Recent Harvard studies identified improvements in the decision-making ability of occupants, which can be achieved even with “modest” changes to the quality of the environment.

To learn more about creating a better environment for your own staff, contact the 361 Degrees team to discuss office heating, ventilation and air conditioning options.

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