In this month’s SmallBiz section, we unveiled our first ever Energy Makeover winners and shared how going green could result in major savings.
I also learned that there is something called “biophilia” that’s become a popular design methodology. According to Bill Brizee, president and CEO of Architects Hawaii, biophilia is the idea that nature contributes to human welfare and can improve productivity, emotional well being, learning, healing and can reduce stress.
Jeremy Faludi, a sustainable design strategist and teacher of green design at Stanford University, writes on his Web site, “In biophilic spaces, patients recover more quickly, students learn better, retail sales are higher, workplace productivity goes up and absenteeism goes down.” He says retail sales can increase up to 40 percent just from utilizing proper lighting and that the financial gains from even a 10 percent increase in worker productivity can pay for a green retrofit two or three times over.
But, according to Brizee, biophilia goes beyond the current LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards: “It inserts the human element into the design,” he says. For example, an energy efficient net-zero building that isn’t welcoming and doesn’t draw people in can’t truly be considered sustainable.
Teri Patton, a LEED-certified designer for Architects Hawaii, provides several examples of biophilic design:
- Bring nature into the space (consider a living wall).
- Use visual and material references to nature, natural materials and cultural references.
- Use the nature of the space itself. Looking at landscape elements and turning them into spatial patterns is a plus.
- Give people access to a view across a vast landscape. This is particularly powerful if it involves water.
- Refuge. Incorporating elements that make people feel nurtured, embraced and safe has major advantages.