Ambius Partners with BRE on Groundbreaking Biophilic Office Research

Ambius, the world’s largest interior landscaping company, is teaming up with BRE, a world leading building science centre, as a core partner in a live, comprehensive study on the impact of biophilic design on office workers. Ambius seeks to further quantify the impact of biophilic design principals, including plant life, on the health, wellbeing and productivity of those within the office environment.

The research project centres on a 7,000 sq. ft (650 m2) 1980s office building on the BRE campus in Watford, which will be refurbished based on biophilic design principles. Ambius joins with BRE and Oliver Heath Design, along with other supporting partners to gather data on the benefits of biophilic design on the health, wellbeing and productivity of office occupants. Biophilic design uses the principles of biophilia to create a human centred approach to improve spaces. The term “biophilia” was coined by American biologist and researcher Edward O. Wilson in his 1984 book “Biophilia,” which describes humans’ innate attraction to nature and natural processes.

Ambius and the core partners will use the 30-month project to evaluate various impacts of biophilic design on the office environment such as daylight, lighting, indoor air quality, acoustic, thermal and humidity comfort, as well as human factors, such as health, wellbeing and workplace behaviours. Office occupants will be provided with wearable technology to allow researchers to track key health metrics, and gain insight into the impact of biophilic design. They will undergo confidential health evaluations and participate in a series of online questionnaires and surveys. The products used will also undergo laboratory evaluation to establish whether a health and wellbeing potential can be quantified at product level. Partners involved in the study expect the results to be available in early 2020.

“The biophilic office project will deepen the evidence base for the impact of interiors on occupant health and wellbeing,” said Ed Suttie, project director for The Biophilic Office. “Plants are a key component of biophilic design and to have world-leading Ambius as a project partner will ensure we maximise the opportunity, guided by research evidence, to create positive, healthier and more energising workplaces of the future from the offices of the past.” “Ambius’s long history of research into the benefits of plants in buildings and biophilic design to enrich and enhance working environments puts us in a unique position to contribute to the project,” said Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at Ambius. “We look forward to playing an active part in the research and also gaining insights into how other elements of the interior design of offices can be used holistically to create healthy, engaging and effective workspaces, and to working closely with the other core partners in creating better offices in the future.”

Ambius’s participation will provide a firm foundation for guidance in the facilities management and a design strategy will be developed including tiers of interventions in zones within the office.

Other Core partners in the research program include:

  • Interface: global manufacturer of modular flooring and pioneers in biophilic design.
  • Biotecture: UK-based designer and supplier of living wall systems.
  • Akzo Nobel: Global paints and coatings company, best known for “Dulux” brand.
  • Plantronics: US-based developers of acoustic products, including the new Habitat Soundscaping systems.
  • Royal Ahrend: Netherlands-based professional work environments, furniture products and services. Operates in the office sector.
  • Coelux: Innovative skylights to reproduce natural light.
  • Ecophon: Part of Saint Gobain. Global manufacturer of acoustic products and systems for working environments.
  • GVA: Real estate and project management solutions. Operates in the facilities management sector throughout Europe and North America.

A number of organisations have also committed to becoming dissemination partners for ‘The Biophilic Office’. This includes: Construction Products Association (CPA), Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT), Constructing Excellence (CE), Plants@Work, Innovation Gateway, British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) and a range of media organisations. These bodies will disseminate findings to members and wider networks in the construction and property sector.

More information on the project can be found at www.bregroup.com/biophilic and on Twitter @BRE_Group and #biophilicoffice.