An independent study conducted by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has uncovered evidence that including indoor plant life in office design can reduce building energy costs, improve air quality as well as raise performance and productivity among workers.

According to study Greening the Great Indoors for Human Health and Wellbeing published by Dr Fraser Torpy and colleagues, “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitted from synthetic materials in office furniture, fittings and computers can cause headaches, loss of concentration and other health problems.”

“Our research proves that plants can reduce potentially harmful VOCs by 80 percent and CO2 by up to 25 percent, so the health benefits are significant,” he says.

“Plants can also reduce dust levels, refresh air and stabilise temperature and humidity levels…employers will also be interested to hear that this clean air leads to clearer thinking, which in turn promotes greater productivity and efficiency.”

186_07_OXIGEN-STUDIO_OXI.jpgPictured: Plantlife features throughout the Oxigen Halifax Studio by Oxigen - a finalist in the 2015 Sustainability Awards

With up to 900 different compounds detected in some buildings, including: benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene; Dr Torpy  says there’s growing evidence that continued chronic exposure to even low levels of these chemicals may result in the condition known as ‘sick building syndrome’.

“Sufferers of this syndrome experience acute or sub-acute discomfort and health effects that appear to be linked to the duration of time spent in a building,” he explains.

He says that plants are far from being just another form of interior decoration.

 “We know plants have always maintained air quality and kept us happy and productive. Dramatically rising energy costs and a growing emphasis on sustainability should make us consider the role plants will play in the doors of the future.”

Read the full study here