Measuring Wellbeing in the UK

30/07/2011

The Role of the Physical Environment

The Government has today issued its report reviewing what is subjective wellbeing and why it should be measured. Health, friends and family, and job satisfaction are some of the key things that should feature in the measurements according to the report. Kenneth Freeman, International Technical Director for Ambius is available to comment on the importance of creating environments with wellbeing in mind, including enrichment of space by combining plants, artwork and scenting.

For example, a 4 year study by The University of Exeter co-funded by Ambius found that people were happier, healthier and 17% more productive in an enriched work environment than they were in a 'lean' space. Those that were given some say over their environment were 32% more productive.

In addition, research conducted by The University of Exeter with support from Ambius demonstrated that enabling older people in care to express their identity by engaging them in decisions about the way their care home is decorated can pay huge dividends in terms of wellbeing and happiness.

In the study covered by the BBC in ‘The Science of the Young Ones’, residents of a care home changed their surroundings using plants and planters supplied by Ambius. The experiment showed that older people who are given choice and responsibility feel happier, healthier and even show improved memory and concentration.

The study found that empowered residents can feel up to 46% more comfortable and up to 40% more satisfied with their life than residents who do not engage in the redesign.

Wellbeing in buildings can be enhanced through design and a new approach to space management.

Alleviation of sick building syndrome

Studies in Europe have shown that health complaints at work and symptoms associated with Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) can be dramatically reduced by the addition of good plant displays.

Improvements in air quality

Research has showed that plants can reduce dust levels by as much as 20% in some situations reducing the reliance on air cleaners and improving indoor air quality. Plants are also effective at removing a range of pollutants from their air.

Making patients feel at ease

Studies have shown that artwork placed down corridors to the operating theatre increased feelings of calm in patients and create a better customer experience. Good quality, pleasant environments increase recovery times.

Noise reduction

Our own research and studies conducted by South Bank University in London have demonstrated that plants can be effective at reducing background noise which has been linked to serious heart problems. Species selection and positioning are crucial to achieve these effects.

Combating stress

Buildings are quieter and more relaxed with plants in them, at the same time, more stimulating and interesting. Plants have positive effects on people, can help to enhance moods and help people feel more relaxed and experience less stress.

This article appeared on ADF www.adfonline.eu.

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