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19 Aug 2022 Blog

Plants have a natural ability to regulate humidity, and this is especially evident when they are clustered together. A Green Wall is a great example of this. While most of us don’t pay any attention to the humidity in our offices or homes, it can be critical not only to our comfort levels, but to our health!

What level of humidity is optimal?

When looking for optimal humidity in the air for good health, neither too dry or too moist will bring good results. Ideally, the temperature in offices should be around 20-22 degrees Celsius, and the humidity somewhere between 40 and 60.

Low levels of humidity can lead to dryness of the mucous membranes, eye irritation, increased headaches, and aggravated skin problems. This can be prominent in winter and air-conditioned rooms, where we are exposed to too low humidity (in the coldest months, it may drop to 30-25% or even lower).

High levels on the other hand, can stimulate the growth fungi, mites, and other microorganisms, which in extreme cases may lead to mould on clothing and even damage to electronic equipment and timber. However, we must consider that such a scenario is unlikely and usually results from faulty ventilation.

Sick Building Syndrome

We’ve written about this in a separate blog, but it should be noted here. The concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in interiors is often higher than outdoors (this applies to toluene, formaldehyde, benzene, or xylene, among others). This is due to the significant changes in lifestyles and the new materials used in construction and interior fit outs. and further compounded by secondary pollutants. These pollutants add to the issues we described in the above chapter to aggravate the problems.

Collectively these symptoms are sometimes described as the sick building syndrome – it affects not only our health, in the long run potentially leading to asthma and heart disease, but also our efficiency, thus reducing office productivity (Bako-Biro et al. 2004 and 2005, Wargocki et al. 1999).

How do Green Walls act as humidifiers?

The use of Green Walls, and indeed Vertical Gardens and clusters of plants, in interior design proves to be supportive in combating these problems. Green Walls, on the one hand, humidify the air, and on the other, act as a pollutant absorbing filter. These two processes occur partly simultaneously – increasing humidity and decreasing dust and mites.

Aside from the many other benefits, the installation of Green Walls can regulate humidity levels in offices, with office workers reporting a decrease in problems with dry mucous membranes or headaches.

More research needed:

The national president of the Australian Institute of Architects, Richard Kirk, said “Certainly, introducing landscaping inside a building has a functional purpose in that it cleans the air and provides a visual relief in internal spaces,” though he believes there should be more work done to discuss all the benefits of green walls and in what areas they are most beneficial.

What do the studies say?

Polish company, 4NatureSystem, studies the outcomes and noted the below discoveries (we made bold the core results):

In 2019, we completed a report summarizing PLGBC and Silesian University of Technology research analyzing physical parameters in office spaces where green walls have been introduced. We commissioned it as part of R&D work on the design of innovative furniture with built-in vegetation. Measurements showed that the vertical gardens had a positive effect on the air’s relative humidity. The air quality in the tested rooms was also assessed as good and very good (concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 particles were measured, among others).

Research on employees’ self-assessment also produced fascinating conclusions. Before introducing vegetation, as many as 60% of respondents complained about the air being too dry. However, when the test walls were placed in the office, more than 70% of people believed that the air humidity is “just right”; when they were removed, as many as 80% of respondents assessed the air as excessively dry. The conclusion? The perception of humidity in office spaces is strongly correlated with plants’ presence and their concentration in the right places.

Other researchers also noticed a similar relationship. After measurements lasting 10 months, Tudiwer and Korjenic (2017) noted that increased relative humidity in winter improved the comfort of users of a classroom where a green wall was installed. Significant differences in humidity levels were also observed in a study focusing on vertical gardens positioned in corridors (Ghazalli et al., 2018). These and other studies demonstrate that the presence of systemic greenery has a measurable impact on our well-being

Above all, people love the biophilic effect of being around plants and it makes them happier, healthier, and more productive at work. Why not talk to us to see what we can do to help you offer a better workplace for your team.

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