Biophilic Design – Why it’s Important to Your Bottom Line

Biophilic Design – Why it’s Important to Your Bottom Line

By: Janet H. Thomas, RID Biophilia – the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms…Life around us exceeds in beauty and complexity anything else humanity is likely to encounter by Edward O. Wilson from The Biophilia Hypothesis. Biophilic Design, by improving community well-being can impact the bottom line. Productivity costs run 112 times greater than energy costs.  An average $2,000 per employee per annum savings may be realized by introducing quality daylighting into office environments. Financial savings may be realized by introducing links to nature and nature inspired elements which improve productivity, healing rates and learning comprehension. Human capital management of this nature reduces absenteeism and leads to greater worker satisfaction. Biophilia states that humans have biological connections with nature on physical, mental and social levels that effects well-being, productivity and relationships. In chaotic and unsettling environments the human body goes into fight or flight mode causing energy drain and mental fatigue evolving into frustration, irritability and distraction. Nature acts as a relaxant, reducing stress and irritability while increasing concentration. A walk through the woods reduces cortisol production (a stress hormone) 13.4 – 15.8%, reduces systolic blood pressure 3.9 – 6.0%. Attention Restorative Theory states that nature acts as a positive restorative environment reducing stress, while improving health, psychotherapy and deterring disease. Shinriin-yoku, the Japanese practice of restorative walks through natural settings is commonly called “forest bathing”. A 3 – 6 kilometer walk reduced blood glucose levels by 109 – 179 milligrams. A comparison study of treadmill walking and indoor pool lap swimming showed forest bathing reduced blood glucose by 39.7% while the treadmill pool came in at 21.2%. The human eye responds to the changing color spectrum of sunlight through the day and adjusts hormone levels of serotonin and melatonin accordingly. Without this exposure imbalances occur beginning with disturbed sleep-wake patterns and leading to neurological and immune system disorders. There are three primary building blocks in Biophilic design. These tenets are:

  • Nature in the Space – incorporating plants, water and animals into the built environment. Dynamic natural elements that move produce the strongest reactions.
  • Natural Analogues – materials or patterns that evoke nature; representational artwork, ornamentation (mimic forms in nature), biomorphic forms (organic shapes), or use of natural materials.
  • Nature of the Space – human psychological and physiological response to space.

Our genetic imprint lends an attraction to savannah-like spaces with moderate to high depth and openness. Coupling views with new experiences and protected spaces heightens human response and elevates mood. The next installment will speak to measures of productivity in the corporate office environment. All data cited from ‘The Economics of Biophilia’ by Terrapin Bright Green and was published on the Interface Reconnect website. Terrapin Bright Green improves the human environment by helping clients break new ground on creatively addressing environmental opportunities.   SC Johnson Wax Building photo by Flicker Savanna photo by savannaenvironment.wordpress.com/photo-gallery/  

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