According to the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), Americans who work in offices spend about 52 hours a week at their desks or in their cubicles. What’s more, the ASHS points out that a host of recent studies on job satisfaction have concluded that those who work in typical office environments, often in windowless spaces with no natural light, have increased stress and reduced job satisfaction levels.
But there could be a relatively simple and inexpensive way to make the American workplace more humane and even healthier. The key? Research published recently in the ASHS journal HortScience concludes the workplace can experience huge benefits with the addition of live plants and/or a view of the outdoors.
Dr. Tina Marie Waliczek Cade, Associate Professor of Horticulture in the Department of Agriculture at Texas State University, and colleagues designed a study to see if offices with windows and views of green spaces as well as offices containing live plants increased productivity and employee happiness on the job. The research team used a satisfaction survey posted on the Internet and administered to office workers in Texas and the Midwest that asked questions about work environments, job satisfaction, the presence or absence of live plants and windows, environmental preferences of the office workers, and demographic information.
The survey results revealed that employees who worked in office environments containing live plants or window views reported a dramatically better overall life quality and feeling of job satisfaction compared to employees who worked in office environments without plants or windows. The complete study is available at the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:
There could be a physical reason why workers feel better in a myriad of ways when they work in “green” offices. NASA has researched the benefits of plants on air quality for some twenty years and found that common houseplants such as bamboo palms work as natural air purifiers. While the original NASA research was aimed at finding ways to purify the air for extended stays in orbiting space stations, the study has important implications for those on Earth, too.
Plants, of course, convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis, but NASA research has documented they can do much more for air quality. In fact, they remove harmful elements such as trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air. Energy efficient, tightly sealed office buildings build with synthetic building materials, producing “Sick Building Syndrome”.
If you’re interested in boosting productivity and just feeling better while working in your office, try adding a few of the plants NASA has documented as being especially good at improving indoor air quality:
1. Philodendron scandens ‘oxycardium’, heartleaf philodendron
2. Philodendron domesticum, elephant ear philodendron
3. Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’, cornstalk dracaena
4. Hedera helix, English ivy
5. Chlorophytum comosum, spider plant
6. Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’, Janet Craig dracaena
7. Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’, Warneck dracaena
8. Ficus benjamina, weeping fig
9. Epipiremnum aureum, golden pothos
10. Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’, peace lily
11. Philodendron selloum, selloum philodendron
12. Aglaonema modestum, Chinese evergreen
13. Chamaedorea sefritzii, bamboo or reed palm
14. Sansevieria trifasciata, snake plant
15. Dracaena marginata , red-edged dracaena
It’s important to note that NASA scientists found that some of the plants zero in on specific chemicals. For example, English ivy, gerbera daisies, pot mums, peace lily, bamboo palm, and Mother-in-law’s Tongue are best for eliminating benzene while the peace lily, gerbera daisy, and bamboo palm are effective in treating trichloroethylene. NASA research also revealed the bamboo palm, Mother-in-law’s tongue, dracaena warneckei, peace lily, dracaena marginata, golden pathos, and green spider plant are good at filtering out formaldehyde.
For more information on NASA studies related to plants and air quality, click here: (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/s…)
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