The use of indoor living plants for enhancement of indoor relative humidity and the general environment of a large, modern, open plan office building are studied using a mixed-methods paradigm.
The quantitative element involved designated experimental and control zones within the building, selected using orientation, user density and users’ work roles criteria. For a period of six months, relative humidity was monitored using data loggers at 30 min intervals, and volatile organic compounds were measured using air sampling. Qualitative “perception data” of the building’s users were collected via a structured questionnaire survey among both experimental and control zones.
Study findings include that living plants did not achieve the positive effect on relative humidity predicted by (a-priori) theoretical calculations and that building users’ perceived improvements to indoor relative humidity, temperature and background noise levels were minimal. The strongest perceived improvement was for work environment aesthetics. Findings demonstrate the potential of indoor plants to reduce carbon emissions of the [as] built environment through elimination or reduction of energy use and capital-intensive humidification air-conditioning systems.
The study’s practical value lies in its unique application of (mainly laboratory-derived) existing theory in a real-life work environment.
The authors would like to thank South Gloucestershire Council; Urban Planters Ltd. UK; Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Central Lancashire, UK, for funding and facilitating this study.
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