The annual Greenbuild Conference and Expo, hosted in Los Angeles this year, offered plenty of great sessions and new exhibits (ask us about 0.8 gallon per flush toilet!)
One really dynamic topic addressed at the conference was biophilic design. Biophilia, a term coined by Eric Fromm in 1964 and later popularized by E.O. Wilson in the 1980s, refers to the human desire to connect with nature and natural systems. In the built environment, this can mean the calm achieved through a garden courtyard, the exhilaration offered by catwalks, or the security of a corner workspace.
As a practical matter, buildings using biophilic design principles incorporate materials, proportions, lighting and thermal conditions, and other sensory cues to provide environments that not only promote better health and reduce stress, but can also lead to higher productivity and creativity. In multiple recent studies, for instance, views to nature have been linked with faster processing at call centers, better recovery rates for hospital patients, and higher scores for student testing.
The field, which combines research in biology, psychology, architecture, neuroscience, and endocrinology, continues to develop, expand, and be tested. Resources abound for those interested in the topic including the International Living Future Institute’s webinar series (October 20-November 17), the Human Spaces design blog, and a series of publications by Terrapin.