By Heather Burns
With the summer foliage and associated bioactivity in full swing, being cooped up in an office for 40 hours a week can be difficult for even the most dedicated employee. Personally, I head outside at regular intervals for strolls, and while it’s true that my most creative thinking takes place outdoors, it’s nice to see that my urge isn’t just a personality quirk, but is firmly rooted in science.
Harvard University biologist, Edward O. Wilson and introducer of the biophilia hypothesis concluded, “There is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. That is, we have a natural urge to affiliate with other forms of life.
Bruce Crowle, co-owner of Atria, Inc, a Connecticut-based interiorscape design and maintenance company, has built a successful business on the concept of biophilia, while helping clients to realize the bottom line benefits of bringing nature to work™.
Crowle says, “In the mid eighties I was invited to Washington and had the distinct pleasure of meeting Dr. Bill Wolverton. He had just concluded his studies for NASA that proved tropical plants could be helpful during prolonged space exploration. His research discovered that plants and their roots and the surrounding soil (a plant system) absorbed volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), such as formaldehyde, benzenes, carbon monoxide and others, and returned oxygen to the environment.”
Likewise, a study by Herman Miller reviewed the degree to which direct exposure to natural elements might impact employees. They were able to find significant productivity gains, less absenteeism, less health problems, and a better sense of well-being as reported by the individuals who participated.
In fact, a wide range of industry experts recognizes the health and environmental benefits of incorporating plants into the workplace. The United States Green Building Council includes dozens of varieties of plants as options to improving indoor air quality, and assigns corresponding points toward LEED certification.
A growing trend (pun intended) in the interiorscape industry is green walls. Also known as vertical planting systems, vertical gardens or biowalls, these visually stunning creations produce a supply of fresh air, naturally cooling buildings in the summer and humidifying in the winter.
In 2010, Atria was proud to become the first “Platinum” rated Green Earth—Green Plants® certified interior plantscape business. “The process to gather and submit the data to earn Platinum certification was certainly a team effort,” Crowle says.
But the company’s leadership and ongoing dedication to sustainable business practices – and to promoting green business practices to their clients – is evident in all that they do. Partnerships with local growers and the use of integrative pest management are just two of the many reasons why bringing nature to work with Atria makes good business sense.