Magazine article Journal of Property Management

INTERIOR Green

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

INTERIOR Green

Article excerpt

Those plants in your office are not just decorative. Scientists are finding them to be surprisingly useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside modern buildings.

Tightly sealed offices and their furnishings can be hostile environments. All sorts of dangers lurk inside--formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene fumes are released from building materials, furniture, and carpeting; ozone from copying machines; fumes from cleaning solvents; radon and second-hand smoke.

Investing in Indoor Air Quality

The EPA has ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health. Solutions for reducing poor indoor air quality include proper ventilation and air exchange rates.

We all may be breathing a lot easier thanks to promising National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research on a cost-efficient pollution-absorbing device: the common office plant.

The Interior Plantscape Division of the Associated Landscape Contractors of America has joined with NASA in a two-year program to study the effectiveness of popular office plants in cleaning indoor air. NASA research on indoor plants found that living plants are so efficient at absorbing contaminants in the air that NASA is considering launching these common office plants into space as part of the biological life support system aboard future orbiting space stations.

Dr. B. C. (Bill) Wolverton, a NASA scientist, believes that NASA's findings about indoor plants have some down-to-earth applications for cleaning dirty indoor air. He estimates that 15 to 20 golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum, Scindapsus aureus) and spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) can clean and refresh the air when placed in a 1,800-square-foot home or office. Achieving similar results, two interior plants from the Dieffenbachia family used per 100 square feet of space, also help reduce air pollutants.

In the initial NASA study, over a dozen varieties of common interior plants were placed in sealed, Plexiglas chambers. Formaldehyde, a toxic chemical with the greatest exposure to humans, was introduced. Within 24 hours, the plants--philodendron, spider plant, and golden pothos--removed 80 percent of the formaldehyde molecules from the chamber.

Recent findings reveal that flowering plants such as the gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) and chrysanthemum (Leucanthemum) are extremely potent in purifying interior air. Other good performers are Dracaena massangeana; peace lily, or spathiphyllum; and golden pothos.

Cleaner Air = Better Morale

NASA research has consistently shown that green and flowering plants can remove several toxic chemicals from the air in building interiors. You can use plants in your office to improve the quality of air to make it a more pleasant place to work--where people feel better and perform better. In fact, research findings published in The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-Being and Social Development suggest that improving the physical environment had a direct impact on the employee's ability and desire to work.

Improved air quality and the design layout of your office can increase employee morale and productivity.

Plants contribute to psychological well being as well as improve the aesthetics of an office. Tropical plants add warmth to accent the corporate environment. A plant-friendly office is a happy and cheerful office.

The Plants for Clean Air Council recommends two plants per 100 square feet. To calculate the recommended plants for your office space use this calculation: room size: width x length = square feet/50 square feet = # of plants.

Nutritional Care

To reap the benefits of indoor plants, you have to ensure their proper care. Most replacement problems originate from poor watering practices, pest infestations, salt injury, or low light intensity All plants are living organisms and metabolize food and light on a regular basis (respiration and photo-synthesis). …

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