Friday, 9 June 2017

A breath of fresh air

Build Studios recently hosted the 2017 Green Infrastructure Challenge awards, held by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the ARCC Network. Helen Santer, Executive Director of Build Studios, Londons first co-working space for the built environment sector in Waterloo - writes about the recent installation of a living wall to the work space, and the benefits she hopes it brings.

To coincide with the awards, we were delighted to see the installation of a Botanic ART living wall in our reception area, kindly provided by Biotecture. Build Studios is a work space that promotes collaboration across the different disciplines within the built environment sector and it has been fascinating to see the responses it has provoked from the different companies based in the building - from an interest in its air purifying qualities, to questions about its ability to absorb sound, to a simple appreciation of its aesthetic qualities and the colour and life it brings to the space.

The presence of the wall has provoked interest in green infrastructure
from the building's occupants
The wall has helped to highlight the growing area of research into the impact of indoor plants on air quality, as well as staff productivity and wellbeing. Featuring over 200 plants including climbing fig, green ferns and English ivy, the wall aims to reduce stress levels and mental fatigue as well as improve air quality by removing carbon dioxide, increasing oxygen and removing significant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene and formaldehyde from the air. The Peace Lily plant which is also included has been identified by NASA as the plant most appropriate to be taken to the international space station due to its extraordinarily high tolerance for absorbing air pollution.

One of our members, Asset Mapping, is also monitoring the impact of the living wall on the air quality in the office, using sensors placed in the building and linked to their digital platform. It will be fascinating to see what impact it has on C02 levels in the space, especially given the proximity of Build Studios to a busy road. As Asset Mapping's CEO commented - 'Nature can help us just as much as tech in delivering a Smart Building'.

The living wall at Build Studios features over 200 plants
The wall will be in place until Friday 16th June at Build Studios. As building managers we're now grappling with how our members are reacting to the prospect of it no longer being in the space - now it's here, they're not sure they can bear to be without it. At the end of the day - regardless of the data we can generate and the scientific evidence of the impact of plants in workspaces - the most common reaction to greenery at work is a simple and emotional one. It makes people feel good. It makes it a little bit more appealing being in the office all day!

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