Green spaces ‘improve urban lifestyle’

April 22nd, 2013 Category: Building Management

The positive impact of the environment on our lifestyles has long been suspected, but new research from the University of Exeter has confirmed that being around green spaces and wildlife improves the wellbeing and quality of life of people living in urban dwellings.

Many of us make a daily commute into the city to work, but new research has revealed that those who permanently live within urban quarters could benefit from parks, gardens and green space. Using data from 5,000 UK households over 17 years, the researchers found that living in a greener area had a significant positive effect.

Dr Matthew White and colleagues at the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health found that having the “green space effect” can reduce mental distress and higher life satisfaction. This was true even after the researchers accounted for changes over time in participants' income, employment, marital status, physical health and housing type.

"These kinds of comparisons are important for policymakers when trying to decide how to invest scarce public resources, such as for park development or upkeep," said Dr White.

Adding a bit of wildlife to the office space has also been found to improve the wellbeing and productivity of employees, and making the changes are actually relatively simple. Research by 
Virginia Lohr and colleagues at the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Washington State University, found that adding plants to a windowless workplace improved worker productivity by 12 per cent and significantly reduced stress. Therefore, adding plants such as the Areca Palm, peppermint plants or the English Ivy could be the way forward when considering your green office feel.

Mark Whitman, a Renewables & Environment specialist, told the "Houseplants filter the air naturally, absorb odours and improve the look of the office. Peace lilies and spider plants also help to create negative ions to counteract the positive ionization given off by electrical equipment in a small space.

"If possible, try and place houseplants in and around your workspace in order to make a clean working space that will enhance your psychological well-being and increase productivity."