Living in urban environments, we are surrounded by concrete, traffic, noise and pollution. This is not healthy. It has a profound impact on our physical and mental wellness. Greenery softens this hard environment, acting as a tonic to ease stress and fatigue. Green walls provide a substantial and spiritual connection to nature which is missing in the modern concrete jungle.
Studies have shown that simply having a view of greenery increases workplace productivity. Furthermore, having plants indoors reduces symptoms of discomfort. This decreases the number of days off due to “sickness”. Gardens that are incorporated into hospitals calm patients leading to the improvement in clinical outcomes and shortened stays.
Air quality is an important aspect of health and wellness and plants have been proven to filter and remove toxins. They also add energy rich oxygen. With each additional plant these benefits are multiplied. A green wall, with thousands of plants, therefore has a major positive impact. This is explained in more detail under the Air Quality section.
Why is it that people feel more relaxed and less stressed around greenery? It is most likely due to man’s evolutionary bond with plants. According to some optometrists the human eye can distinguish between 2,000 shades of green, but only 100 shades of red. Through human evolution, recognizing a plant’s shade of green was really important when you were about to eat it or use it for shelter or medicine. This could be one of the reasons why we feel so comfortable around plants.
According to scientific reports carried out at American and European Universities, simply having a view of plants in a working environment give positive physiological responses. This translates into greater employee efficiency which results in increased earnings for a company.
A study carried out at Washington State University had participants' blood pressure and emotions monitored while completing a simple, timed computer task in the presence or absence of plants. It concluded that when plants were added to this interior space, the participants were more productive (12% quicker reaction time) and less stressed (lower blood pressure). In addition, immediately after completing the task, participants in the room with plants present reported feeling more attentive than people in the room with no plants. Plants help people to feel more relaxed and focused, which lead to an increase in productivity, creativity, idea generation, and problem solving capabilities.
Another study was carried out at the Norwegian Agricultural University with the goal of assessing the effect of plants in an office on the health and symptoms of discomfort among office personnel. During randomized periods the subjects were exposed to bare office environments and to ones where plants were within view. It was found that during the periods that plants were present, symptoms such as cough, fatigue and dry / itchy skin decrease at 37, 30 and 23% respectively. If people have a view of foliage and feel healthier at work because of plants being present then the number of days off due to ”sickness” decreases.
It has been proven that hospitals which incorporate gardens have been shown to calm patients, improve their well-being and foster improvement in clinical outcomes such as reducing pain medication intake and shortening stays. This reduces the number of people in hospitals, the staffing and medicinal requirements and makes waiting times shorter, which therefore could reduce taxes.
You might have heard about casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere that pump oxygen-rich air into the ventilation systems to make people stay awake longer and thus gamble more. Whether this is a myth or not, the idea behind it makes sense. It is a simple fact that when there is more oxygen in the air, we feel more alert and awake. Instead of installing an expensive system to add extra oxygen to the air, use what nature has given us and incorporate hundreds of plants organized into an artistic green wall. It is cheaper, has lower operating costs, uses much less electricity, constantly filters the air and has positive physiological benefits.