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Opinion:

Bottom Line Benefits of Biophilia

While the economic value of biophilic design can be difficult to quantify, scientific data sets out to prove its financial potential.

By William D. Browning
March 2012
Numbers are rounded to nearest whole. 1: Ohtsuka, 1998. 2: Wolf, 2005. 3: Machlin & Carper, 2007. 4: Heerwagen, 2006. 5: Heschong, 2003; Loftness, 2008.

Biophilia, our innate need to affiliate with life and life-like processes, is a concept that has been recognized for several decades by the scientific and design communities, and intuited for hundreds of years by the population at large. Recent research in neuroscience and endocrinology clearly demonstrates that experiencing nature has significant benefits, both psychological and physiological. Bringing nature and references to nature into the built environment is the purpose of biophilic design.

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Biophilic design has often been regarded as a luxury, the province of property owners who want the best possible workplace for their employees, or who want to showcase their efforts to be more environmentally responsible. In reality, improving community well-being through biophilia can reduce labor costs and improve the bottom line. We believe that incorporating nature into the built environment is not just a luxury, but a sound economic investment in health and productivity. Scientific research has demonstrated the financial potential for a large-scale deployment of biophilic design. Whether it is hospitals that allow patients to heal more quickly, offices that boost output, schools that improve test scores, or retail outlets with higher sales, compelling data make the business case for incorporating biophilia into the places where we live and work. Download the study from terrapinbrightgreen.com.

William D. Browning, partner of Terrapin Bright Green, is a foremost thinker, strategist, and advocate for sustainable design solutions.

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