UN survey reveals the demand for nature in and around our buildings is strong and growing

Green architecture concept. Building exterior covered with plants in modern city

ORLANDO, USA: A recent United Nations funded survey among global real estate investors found that 89.5% of them plan to invest in healthy buildings. These survey respondents represent $5.75 trillion dollars (US) in managed real estate assets. The majority are pursuing well building certification. Even better, plants and access to nature appear on the scorecard of most of these certification programmes.

From a survey Green Plants for Green Buildings conducted earlier this year, we know the two top barriers building professionals encounter when incorporating nature into their buildings are maintenance costs, followed by installation costs.

Looking at these survey results it appears that of all the plant-benefit talking points available to us, the talking points that include economic data are of greatest interest and most help to building decision makers.

Thankfully, a considerable amount of research has been done. For over 50 years, scientists have been collecting data on the impact nature has on human biology. More recently, economists have taken this data, placed it in the context of specific economic sectors, and calculated the potential economic impact. Some of the impacts are increased sales and some are increased savings. All result in increased profits.

Here’s a look at some research data related to plants and nature in these sectors.

  • In the workplace: reduced absences by 10%; increased productivity by 12%; higher levels of wellbeing (15%) and creativity (15%), and improvements in concentration (19%). Using Dept. of Labor statistics this yields a 3:1 return on the investment in plants.
  • Access to nature in healthcare facilities: shorter post-surgical hospital stays by 8.5% (about 1 day), shorter depression related hospital stays by 2.6 days; reduced need for post-surgery medication by 20-22%. Incorporating nature into facilities can reduce the cost of both patient care and staffing, while improving medical outcomes.
  • Access to nature in the classroom: 20-26% faster progress through curricula; improved attendance by 3.5 days/year; 5-14% improved test scores. Not only does this data indicate institutional savings, with an increase of 20% in progress through curriculum, it also opens the possibility of adding enrichment programs to the student’s experience.
  • Access to nature in retail: consumers willing to pay up to 25% more for goods, are prepared to travel farther, pay more for parking, and will stay longer in locations with greenery. This is of growing economic significance for brick-and-mortar stores compete for customers with online stores.

Like to learn more about making the case for nature in the built environment? At GPGB.org you’ll find Terrapin’s The Economics of Biophilia with research citations, relevant articles, survey results, and infographics.

Author: Mary Golden, Advocacy Incubator & Executive Administration, Green Plants for Green Buildings.


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