"Greening Solutions" = Healthier Workplace?

How much have you considered the "health" of your organization's work space in regard to the success of your organization? Sustainable design is proven as an effective approach to the development of productive and healthy work spaces. Sustainably designed and redesigned work areas not only benefit practical aspects such as energy costs, but longer-term social issues such as reducing employee absenteeism and recruiting a wider pool of talent. 

Just recently, a forward-thinking book book entitled Green Up! Sustainable Design Solutions for Healthier Work and Living Environments by Stevie Famulari was published addressing this burgeoning topic. During this past month, I had the chance to discuss this new book with Stevie, and I asked her directly:  “What are ‘greening solutions’ and how do they contribute to a healthier workplace environment?” Here is her complete response:

There are many ways to look at healthier work place environments.  Greening solutions is one approach that improves the air quality, as well as the emotional health of the people who work there.  Let’s consider this -- we spend notable portion of our time in a work environment.  The views, air, colors, scent, lighting -- all these factors influence the health of the space and affect how we feel about it.

Greening solutions look at using natural resources, including plants, composting, recycling, and other sustainable resources to create a sense of ownership in how each person can improve the space.

One greening solution is to use plants that improve the air quality of work spaces.  Most people have read that any plant benefits a space for air and psychological effects.  That is true, but there are also some plants that can be used to clean contaminants of work spaces -- such as the off gassing of furniture, the VOCs from paints, and the cleaners used throughout the office.  Some plants specifically can be used to uptake those contaminants.  They are called plants for phytoremediation.  Using those can be specific for a site.

Then, go a step further -- Use plants for fresh scents, for color accents, and for soft shapes.  With growing plants, people can experience unexpected moments of joy, change, hope while watching something one cares for flower, leaf, die, and then return again.  These changes allow people to remember that we move forward each day and can make new choices.

Greening solutions come in a variety of scales, and can be specific for each site -- for each budget, lighting, space, users, materials on the site, contaminants, and message the company wants to share.  Greening solutions can help the employees have a work space in which they are healthier and the clients who visit the site to expand their practice of healthy spaces.  Greening solutions experts can help any person look at their space with fresh eyes to find new ways to practice a healthy lifestyle.

What do you think of Stevie's perspective? What is your company doing to improve the health of its office and work space?