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'Sustainability' and 'green buildings' are buzzwords among building operators and developers.
The Green Building movement is becoming increasingly important as architects and developers strive to find ways of constructing and managing buildings in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly fashion. As a company, Ambius has long promoted the use of plants as being an integral part of sustainable building management.
Ambius intends to work hard to promote greater awareness of the benefits of interior and exterior landscaping and, hopefully, to ensure that they feature as a recognised, measurable component of new green building rating schemes.
Ambius promotes sustainability and environmental responsibility. We join our colleagues in Europe and Australia who are also members of their respective countries’ green building councils in promoting the use of plants in and around buildings for the benefit of people and the wider environment.
Ambius has a range of products and services that can help developers achieve their sustainability goals. More importantly, they allow building operators to deliver environments that enhance the experience of the end user.
Here are some of the ways that interior plants can help.
Plant displays are usually significantly cheaper than manufactured items, employ fewer resources in their establishment and can fulfill more than one function.
Plant displays can be especially useful space management aids in commercial buildings as they form natural screens and partitions, ideal in open plan offices. They help guide people around a space, whilst at the same time reducing noise, collecting dust, humidifying the air and removing some pollutants.
Rainwater is a free resource, which can be collected from the roofs of commercial buildings and used to water interior and exterior plant displays.
Grey water (water that’s already been used once, for instance to wash hands or dishes), once treated and recycled for re-use where drinking quality is not required, can also be used to water plants.
Additionally, we can fit interior and exterior plant displays with water-efficient subterranean irrigation systems and planted with species with a low water requirement..
One of the benefits of interior plants is that they help cool the air around them through the process of evapotranspiration (the movement of water from the soil, through the plant and into the atmosphere). Large interior plants are also very good reducing temperature through shading. Both of these benefits are especially effective in tall buildings where atrium planting is often employed to help with temperature regulation.
Research carried out in the USA has demonstrated that plants attract more than their fair share of dust.
Particulate levels (including airborne spores) can be reduced by as much as 20% in some situations. This could lead to a reduction in the use of air cleaners (although not their replacement) and an improvement in indoor air quality.
There is also a body of recent research from Australia and the USA that shows that interior plants are effective at removing a range of pollutants at relatively low planting densities in real office situations.
Our company’s own research studies and those conducted by Peter Costa of South Bank University in London, have demonstrated that plants can be effective at reducing background noise. Species selection and positioning are crucial to achieve these effects.
Studies in Europe have shown that health complaints at work and symptoms associated with Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) can be dramatically reduced by the addition of good plant displays.
Office buildings with large floor areas and deep plans (e.g. low and wide buildings) are seldom ‘green’ buildings as they can be difficult to ventilate naturally and there is limited access to natural light and views.
Good interior landscaping can give people access to an indoor garden or views of vegetation, especially if there is an atrium or other large space, and the combination of plants and artificial daylight can help overcome the problems of lack of access to natural daylight.
Find out more about the United States Green Building Council at www.usgbc.org.