Research Highlights the Benefits of Biophilic Design Elements in the Workplace

Renderings courtesy of Stantec

Boston – Stantec, a global design firm, continues to drive innovation at the forefront of workplace design by contributing to company-sponsored biophilic design research through the Healthy Building Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The research was sponsored through Stantec’s Creativity & Innovation (C&I) program, which celebrates and encourages creative and innovative thinking that benefits clients and communities.

While biophilic design elements such as positive indoor air quality, ventilation, and access to daylight have all proven to benefit physical health, data linking biophilic design directly to human performance was previously limited.

Harvard researchers designed and implemented a randomized crossover study that allowed participants to experience different versions and levels of biophilic design in open and closed office spaces within a Virtual Reality (VR) lab. Stantec design teams leveraged knowledge of biophilic patterns to integrate and layer the patterns into the space to meet study requirements, utilizing real-life solutions that could be implemented in the future.

The study measured blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance level (the body’s reaction to stress) while cognitive tests were administered to measure participants’ reaction time and creativity. Participants in the spaces with biophilic elements had consistently lower physiological stress indicators, as well as higher creativity scores. The results suggest that biophilic interventions can help reduce stress and improve creativity.

“When people return to the workplace, they will be doing so with an understanding that the physical space will be safe and supportive of their holistic wellbeing,” said Heather Greene, senior associate and workplace leader at Stantec. “Prioritizing health and wellness in design is critical to teams reaching their full potential and maintaining a high level of engagement.”

Download the full study here.