World’s First Biophilic Office Project Studies Buildings, Nature

The research project will provide environmental and human data as evidence of biophilic design’s positive impact on the health and wellbeing of office occupants.

The Biophilic Office project, a groundbreaking office refurbishment project that will provide quantified evidence of the benefits of biophilic design on health, wellbeing, and productivity of office occupants, was launched earlier this month by BRE. The focus of the project is a nearly 7,000-square-foot 1980s office building on the BRE campus in Watford, England, which is being refurbished according to biophilic design principles.

(Photo: BRE)

BRE is partnering with designer Oliver Heath, who is leading the design element of the revamped building. In addition, a host of founding core partners are involved to bring their industry expertise to the project, including:

  • Interface: global manufacturer of modular flooring
  • Biotecture: designer and supplier of living wall systems
  • Akzo Nobel: global paints and coatings company
  • Plessey: lighting and ECG sensing technologies
  • Royal Ahrend: professional work environments, furniture products, and services
  • Coelux: skylights that reproduce natural light
  • Ecophon: acoustic products and systems for working environments
  • GVA: real estate and project management solutions

Each of the partners will be using the office and its test facilities in the project to evaluate their products’ role in promoting the health and wellbeing of office occupants and for wider biophilic design.

“The project will show how quantified improvements in productivity and wellness can bring rewards for landlords, occupiers, developers, and all those concerned with the office and wider built environment,” says Ed Suttie, Research Director at BRE. “Researchers will carry out a baseline year of pre-refurbishment and a year of post-refurbishment monitoring, evaluating the office environment for daylight, lighting, indoor air quality, acoustic, thermal, and humidity comfort. Office occupants will undergo confidential health evaluations, and sign up to a series of online questionnaires and surveys. They will use wearable technology to monitor key health metrics.”

This comprehensive and long-term study is unique in terms of scale and data capture. It will provide a firm foundation for guidance and adoption of measures in the facilities management and refurbishment sectors to promote health and wellbeing in offices.

A design strategy will be developed including tiers of interventions in zones within the office. The products used will also undergo laboratory evaluation to establish whether a health and wellbeing potential can be quantified at product level.