Friday, February 06, 2009

Cubicle Symbiosis

A new office building in Delhi proposes to use 60,000 indoor plants in lieu of building ventilation. "By 'growing' fresh air indoors," write the project's developers, "we can reduce the supply of external fresh air needed by air-conditioned buildings, while still meeting industry standards for healthy indoor air."

The fresh-air garden concept has been in use for 15 years at Delhi's Paharpur Business Centre, a 20 year-old building that houses over 1,200 plants for 300 workers. Years of data collection have demonstrated that the building's workers suffer fewer respiratory ailments and headaches, and are more productive. You can check on the PBC's indoor air quality, and compare it against outdoor air in Delhi, here on their web site.

"We conducted another experiment and sealed all fresh air and exhaust from the building for 6 weeks and found that that the air quality inside the building was better than outdoors."
As it happens, a lot of the research on house plants and air quality has been conducted by NASA, in anticipation of the day when astronauts will need to grow their own fresh air on the moon and other places where the outdoor air just won't do.

The houseplants pictured above are GreenSpaces' top recommendations for a cubicle fresh-air garden. The Areca Palm filters out dust, humidifies the air, and removes volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde. The Mother-in-law’s Tongue plant converts C02 into oxygen at night, and is recommended for bedrooms. And the Money Plant is another good scrubber of volatile organic compounds.

More info at

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