NY06021 - UTS Project Greening the Great Indoors for Human Health and Wellbeing

The purpose of this Report is to present the findings of a project undertaken to further an understanding of the benefits of potted-plants on indoor air quality and wellbeing of building occupants, to contribute to ‘greening the city’ for sustainable urban communities. The research comprised: laboratory trials of volatile organic compound (VOC) removal, with three untried species; an office study of minimum numbers of plants required to reduce VOCs and CO2; a preliminary examination of whether plants could, undesirably, increase airborne mould spore loads; and an investigation of effects of plants on psychological wellbeing of staff. The laboratory trials confirmed the species tested have similar capacities to remove VOCs as nine species previously tested. The office study recorded VOC and CO2 reductions, but less marked than in our earlier studies, probably because of greater efficiency of more modern air conditioning systems, and inadequate lighting. Horticultural R&D is required to optimise plant contribution to CO2 removal. No significant effects of plants were found on mould counts or types; indoor counts were very low – one quarter of outdoor loads. Highly significant reductions in negative mood states were found with plants – and one plant can make the difference. Recommendations for further R&D are also presented.