Green building is more than just a trend. An often overlooked part of Green building is what is called Biophilic design. The goal of this sub-genre is to bring the outdoors into interior living spaces, either residential or commercial. The introduction and interaction with natural elements for aesthetic and health purposes is beginning to receive wider acceptance as indoor air pollution becomes a growing concern for urban dwellers and suburban ones who live in air-tight energy efficient homes.
Biophilic design injects real or simulated natural components into living and working spaces to promote emotional and physical wellness. Morning sun exposure, water features, natural vistas through window-walls, sky-ceilings, and greenhouse rooms where plants dominate and restore air quality while providing an indoor forest refuge are some common applications of this recent design extension. Biophilic design is based more in a emotional or Zen-like perspective than save-natural-resources Green building. Understanding that nature and natural settings allow humans to relax and is part of our DNA, professors at major universities study ecology and it’s effect on our home environments as well as dispositions.
Here are some tips to get a start on Biophilic design in your home.
- Find a room that faces good morning sun and install floor-to-ceiling windows to receive a daily dose of high-powered natural light. Studies show that hospital patients who receive morning sunshine need almost a quarter less pain medication that those with north facing windows.
- Install a sky ceiling in a family or living room. These new ceiling systems mimic full-spectrum light emitted from mid-day skies.
- Place a waterfall or pond with fountain in side a favorite room. Flowing or spraying water adds a relaxing sound to your environment and helps screen out exterior noise pollution.
- Build a green house room with many indoor and outdoor plants, more the better. Put a comfortable chair to use for reading or relaxing in your home garden.
- Use window-walls to allow outdoor vistas in. I have seen homes that installed large glass areas in a well-used room. The increase in natural light and the ability to see from the ground to the sky is welcomed especially in the dark days of winter.