Biophilia Blog - Acoustics and Your Plants

Plants are probably the most widely known strategy for bringing biophilic elements into a home or work space.  But those palms, ferns, and rubber plants are busier than you think.

In addition to being visually appealing, plants reduce stress, increase productivity and creativity, cool the space, and even remove toxins from the air.  Did you know they can also help keep the peace?

As open office spaces become more popular, lack of sound privacy and noise intrusion are consistently cited as problems in the workplace.  Recent research supports the use of plants as an effective strategy for reducing noise levels – up to 15 decibels. They accomplish it through three mechanisms:

·      Sound absorption – thick bark and leaves have dynamic surfaces that absorb sound

·      Noise deflection – flexible surfaces vibrate to transform and redirect sound energy

·      Sound wave refraction – aka reducing echoes

Plants, when introduced in medium to large groupings and at strategic locations in a space, can provide significant reductions in noise levels for occupants.  Tips for using plants for acoustic performance:

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·      More is better - think planters and living walls vs. individual pots as larger groupings are more effective than single plants

·      Work the edges – planting along walls, corners and other edges maximizes the likelihood that plant features will diffuse sound waves as they reflect off surfaces

·      Surface area – irregular bark surfaces and larger leaves work better than smooth small ones

Not sure what to plant?  Here are some top performers for removing indoor air toxins while improving acoustics at the same time.

Interested in bringing biophilic design to your next project?  Contact us!