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Episode 02 – Biophilic Design – Part Two

Discover how you can green your life by building a knowledge base of current sustainable and eco-savvy trends. This series will delve into hot topics, current standards and practices, ways to design better spaces, and specify materials that benefit not only us, as consumers, but the world as a whole. Members of CaraGreen, a sustainable materials distributor, and other industry leaders weigh in throughout the series. This is Build Green, Live Green.

In this second episode, we will be discussing the benefits of biophilic design- does it really help? This episode is the last in a two-part series on the topic. We are here today with Jessica McNaughton and Kim Loftis of CaraGreen, our shows producer and sustainability think tank.

JESSICA: Hi, this is Jessica.

KIM: And Kim!

JESSICA: With Build Green Live Green. This is the second part of our podcast series on biophilic design. In our first episode we talked about biophilic design, what it is really, what are the 3 different pillars and 14 different patterns. Today were going to dig in a little bit deeper and give some specific examples and talk about the data behind it.

KIM: Yeah.

JESSICA: You know, it’s not one of these broad-claim things that has no substantiation behind it where “hey, do this and your life will be better.” This really has data behind it. We’ll talk about some really cool case studies and ways that biophilic design is going to make you happier, healthier and more productive.

KIM: And one thing about biophilic design that’s really cool, too, is that it started with these case studies. A lot of these building standards started out saying “do this and your buildings will be better your people will operate better and will enjoy their space more” but there weren’t really a whole lot of facts around it other than “you’re going to save energy, you’re going to save water”.


KIM: So those numbers were great, but the studies weren’t really there yet. So that’s why we’ve really latched onto biophilic design because the studies are there, and they are so interesting, and you guys are really going to enjoy some of these facts.

JESSICA: Yeah, I think that you guys are probably really familiar with the LEED building standard which basically came out and said “give me a bunch of money and I promise you will save money down the road,” well, there was no data to back it up, which is what you were referring to And those building standards, they are about the building. Right. You know they are about air filtration rates and the low-flow toilets and all of that stuff.

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: It’s not about the people. Biophilic design is about the people. Its about-

KIM: How the building affects the people-

JESSICA: Right. Right. Its about how does the building affect Kim? How does the building affect our listeners as well?

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: We really want biophilic design to be something that you notice every day now when you walk around, and you understand that incorporating these simple things can make a big difference in your personal and professional life.

KIM: For sure. So, let’s start with a recap so everyone is on the same page. Jessica, can you give us a review of just kind of what biophilic design is?

JESSICA: Sure. So biophilic design is effectively bringing nature into a space. Its our need to affiliate with nature. It makes us healthier, and a lot of this information that we have is from a really great study that was done by terrapin bright green on biophilic design. One of the underlying factors here is that mental health and cardiovascular disease are going to be the two primary contributors to illnesses worldwide by 2020.

KIM: Wow.

JESSICA: Think about that

KIM:  Wow.

JESSICA: And you know stress is a big factor in both of those.

KIM: Absolutely.

JESSICA: And stress is mitigated by nature. So, we talked last time about your sympathetic and parasympathetic system. Sympathetic, fight or flight, parasympathetic is your body’s way of countering that sympathetic system. And your ideal state is homeostasis where everything is in balance. But you rely on those two systems in different ways.

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: But stimulation of the parasympathetic system is directly correlated to being around nature.

KIM: And one thing about stress in our lives today and the fight or flight scenario is when, back in the day, when we were cave people, we were maybe chased by an animal and then that stress is over.


KIM: And then you’re done.


KIM: And then you’re back with your group. But nowadays you’re in traffic, you sit in a stressful job, you-

JESSICA: Wait a minute.

KIM: Not me, not me, just kidding.


KIM: But there’s all these different stressors that happen constantly throughout your day, and we don’t have enough times or spaces designed into our buildings that give us a break.


KIM: So that is another thing that biophilic design is all about, incorporating those into your everyday life to give your system a break.

JESSICA: Yes. I have three stressors that get off the bus at 330 every day and then one that shows up at 530. Speaking of that. Let’s talk about mental health. So, mental health is becoming a major issue in the us.

KIM: Absolutely. One in 5 Americans experience some sort of mental health issue in their lifetime.

JESSICA: And you see it more with kids. I mean I went to an event and this lady, all she did was work with kids with mental illness and I just think it’s come so much more to the forefront, its almost becoming more acceptable to talk about.

KIM: Which is great.

JESSICA: One in 10 young people have gone through some period of major depression.

KIM: Wow.

JESSICA: And you know, a lot of people live with mental illness. I think its 1 in 25 Americans have a serious mental illness, like schizophrenia, major depression like I mentioned, or bipolar disease.

KIM: Yeah.

JESSICA: And then you know we talked about the two, mental health and then the other one that is stress-related is cardiovascular disease.

KIM: Yeah, so heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. I think a lot of times we think about it as more of a men’s issue but it’s really not, it’s really growing for both populations. There’s 110 thousand people die of heart disease in the US every year-


KIM: 610 thousand people die of heart disease in the us every year.

JESSICA: So effectively 25% of all deaths are related to cardiovascular disease.


JESSICA: And you know there’s almost ¾ of a million people, Americans, that have a heart attack every year.

KIM: So scary.

JESSICA: So, you know, getting back to biophilic design, were trying to, were giving you facts so you can help your, the inside environment, by incorporating some of these biophilic design techniques. And, you know, how much time is spent indoors, your favorite statistic.

KIM: Oh yeah, 90% of our time is spent indoors. Which sounds crazy but it’s really true.

JESSICA: Think about it.

KIM: Spending time in your car is also considered being indoors. So, you go from your house, to your car, to drop your kids off at school, to your job, back to school to pick up your kids, and then maybe you go out to see a movie, and then you go to a restaurant, and then you go back home. So, to and from, maybe, you’re outside for maybe a total of 10 minutes throughout the day.

JESSICA: I think about just last year when I would wait for my kids bus outside, I wouldn’t know when the bus was coming, so it was supposed to be there at 4:15 maybe I’m standing out there at 415 and the bus shows up at 445.

KIM: Sure.

JESSICA: Well that’s probably a good thing, I spent 30 minutes outside. But now I have an app called Here Comes the Bus-

KIM: Oh, wow.

JESSICA: -so I don’t even have to go outside until that bus is showing right up there so the technology in our lives is also contributing to this.

KIM: Absolutely.

JESSICA: Right? We are, you have so much information at your fingertips. You don’t have to go wait outside because you don’t know when the taxi is coming because they sent you a text saying, “Ronald is going to be there in 3 minutes,” so you don’t have to go outside for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

KIM: Yeah so you feel like you’re saving yourself time and you’re not stressing as much because maybe you have that extra 3 minutes while you’re waiting on the car to answer an email, but if you would have stepped outside your stress level would have been lower. So, it’s really cool how all these things can contribute to how your body functions.


KIM: But it’s also a little bit sad how technology can kind of push us in those directions. So, yeah, a lot of really interesting information on how this all affects-

JESSICA: Right. So Biophilic design Is really knowing that we spend that much time inside and knowing that were not going to move our offices into the middle of the forest, unless you’re that one company that Baba Flooring, remember?

KIM: Who was the company that created those little pods and put them in the middle of you know New York City-

JESSICA: Oh, I don’t know.

KIM: I feel like they put them in the park, who was that company?

JESSICA:  I don’t remember. Um, I was thinking of Baba Flooring-

KIM: Ah, yes.

JESSICA: -right here in In North Carolina where they have their offices, were set out in the middle of that forest, that was really neat. But in reality, that’s not going to happen. Biophilic design is bringing nature inside and you know it’s, again, that time spent in nature, its not just a hypothesis. Its not a theory. A 20-minute walk, that 20 minutes that I could’ve been outside walking back and forth waiting for my kids, that’s been shown to increase parasympathetic activity by 56%.

KIM: Wow.

JESSICA: Which again that’s what’s combating stress.

KIM: Yeah.

JESSICA: And that parasympathetic activity will lover your stress level by about 15%. Your heart rate decreases by 6%. So, think about that. You’re going for a walk, you’re actually doing physical activity but its decreasing your heart rate.

KIM: Right. That’s amazing.

JESSICA: Because it’s calming you down.

KIM: Yeah, yeah.

JESSICA: And also lower your blood pressure and that’s based on a study.  That’s pretty neat. So, okay, can you just do a quick recap of the pillars and yeah-

KIM: Yeah. Let’s go over that. So, there are three pillars that make up biophilic design. So, we have nature in the space, nature of the space and natural analogues. And within those pillars there are 14 patterns. You can hear all about that in part one of our series, which this is a 2-part series so go back and listen to our first podcast on that.

JESSICA: And where’s that?

KIM: That’s on our website and the name of our podcast, Build Green Live Green, you can look that up on your podcast station and find it there.

JESSICA: Okay. Or you can link to it from our website at caragreen.com.

KIM: So today, like we mentioned, were going to go over some specific examples about biophilic design and how basically it is supported by all of these case studies, so were going to get into some of the details now.

JESSICA:  You have a 3-year-old.

KIM: I do.

JESSICA: And she is going to be soon in big kid school. But you haven’t quite had the experience that I’ve had with the three of mine in elementary school.

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: But I would like to talk about education first because we just spent a lot of time going over how much time you spend indoors, and I think one of the saddest things to see is how much time these children spend indoors.

KIM: Absolutely.

JESSICA: I think they might get a 30-minute break every day to go on the playground. So, you know, they are at school for 8 hours, and 30 minutes are spent outside.

KIM: Its very sad.

JESSICA: It is very sad. And we already talked about the negative effects that not being in nature can have on you, the stress, and think about a school environment. Do you know what my school was called? Its as boring as it was in the inside. My school was called U-32, like they couldn’t even come up with a name. They called it U-32.

KIM: Creative name for it. Oh my gosh.

JESSICA: It sounded like a U boat, right?

KIM: Yeah, yeah.

JESSICA: And it was brick on the outside very little windows, linoleum, yellow, you know, Boston crème colored lockers, you know what I’m talking about.

KIM: And on the inside, its probably cinder block walls, just like every other school I’m sure our listeners are picturing a school in their minds right now because they know exactly what we’re talking about.

JESSICA: Yep. The gray stairwells, you know it was just very drab, and very boring. And there was no daylight classroom.

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: I mean that just didn’t happen. So.

KIM: And if there were, they probably had blinds pulled so the kids wouldn’t look outside and get distracted.


KIM: But the whole point of having these views outside is that, giving your brain a break, seeing the clouds move, watching the wind blow, seeing a bird just fly overhead, that I just literally saw, is a nice little element in your day. So, it’s not as distracting as you might think it is.

JESSICA: So, there was a study done with some children and 337 of these kids were asked to draw a picture. Guess what they drew.

KIM: Something of the outside.

JESSICA: Yes. They drew themselves or something in nature.

KIM: Yeah.

JESSICA: They’re starving for this.

KIM: Yeah. Its their favorite place to be.

JESSICA: Yep, yep. And you know, I think that it’s not just, biophilic design in a school is great because you know we’ll get into these studies but more productive, more alert-

KIM: Right. Less absenteeism.

JESSICA: -healthier, happier. But not just the students.

KIM: Right. The teachers as well.

JESSICA: Nothing’s more infuriating than your kid comes home, no homework, they’ve got some picture they colored and you’re like “what did you do at school today?” “Oh, Mrs. Johns wasn’t at school today because, you know, she was sick.” We don’t want the teachers to be sick. I don’t want a substitute teacher having to teach my kids because they don’t know my child-

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: -and they’re not going to learn the same thing, they are not on the same path, they don’t just slot right in. I mean, I used to be a substitute teacher, I didn’t know what I was doing. And they cost money, right?

KIM: Right. Absolutely.

JESSICA: Probably 80, 100$ a day for a substitute teacher.

KIM: So, it’s costing the school money to have absent teachers that are maybe sick because of their space, literally because of their building.

JESSICA: Or the stress that has been caused by the space itself.

KIM: Well, having a high stress level lowers your immune system so you are more likely to get sick, so it’s all related.

JESSICA: An absent student, one study shows, an absent student costs 25$ a day and an absent teacher costs $105 a day.

KIM: Wow. That adds up.

JESSICA: So, if you can reduce that? So, let’s talk about some of the studies that have been done. What’s an example of something that you could do in a school, that would have an immediate impact?

KIM: Yeah, so, windows. Easy. You get daylighting, and that affects kids right away. It results in higher attendance, 3-4% higher attendance, so again you know there are some really real numbers behind these studies. We know its going to increase the attendance of students, the attendance of teachers, and that not only has an effect directly but indirectly as well, over time.

JESSICA: And honestly if you go to, even if you just Google “biophilic design in schools” you’ll find some really great data.

KIM: Oh yeah.

JESSICA: The Terrapin Bright Green study has some really great data on the schools in it. And Interface had that great article on these 3 schools, they were designed from the ground up, But those, they incorporated green roofs, walking paths, walking paths, imagine if your kids could go on the roof.

KIM: Oh wow, yeah.

JESSICA: One of your classes is gardening. You have an herb garden or fruit garden.

KIM: Absolutely.

JESSICA: Just those little things. I mean, even on an existing school, you can do that.

KIM: For sure.

JESSICA: Right? Plant some tomato plants. Or some, I don’t know why, my Japanese eggplant grow like crazy around here. I’ve seen it at my daughter’s daycare. They have a garden and they have a garden area and they started building that in.

KIM: And kids eat that stuff up.

JESSICA: Literally. Well not the eggplant.

KIM: That’s true. They definitely don’t. They want to be outside. I remember when my daughter was an infant. If she was crying and inconsolable, we’d take her outside and shed look up and stare at the trees. And immediately she would just calm down.


KIM: It was the coolest thing. I mean, it affects all of us.


KIM: Even kids, they go through a lot of stress. I think a lot of us say, I definitely say to my daughter, “Oh, it’d be so nice if I didn’t have to worry about x, y, z, and be a kid and just play.” They have a lot of stressors in their life as well. So, you know they go through a lot in their day and its really important for them to you know have those breaks and have biophilic design in their spaces. There are other ways to incorporate biophilic design, you mentioned the plants, spending more time outdoors, all of these things not only help with absenteeism and attendance, but they also produce better test scores.


KIM: So, you know, kids are always being harped on about test scores, so are teachers.

JESSICA: Oh my God, this day and age.

KIM: So, I mean there’s a lot of pressure there and if something like the design of your space can help you have better test scores for your school, what kind of leader of a school would not want to try it?

JESSICA: I wish that more principals would think about things like that. I think, like you’re saying, they get so caught up in these test scores its again you know, pun intended, it’s the forest for the trees, right? If you incorporated some of these biophilic design techniques, color, doesn’t have to be, no one is saying out an atrium in the front of your school with a forest in it or put an herb garden on your roof. You can do this stuff outside, set aside a little plot or area. At my kids’ school when you walk in the door there’s a big picture painted on the wall of a tree.

KIM: Cool.

JESSICA: I don’t know that that was the intent, I think it was “let’s grow, lets learn together,” but they involuntarily incorporated biophilic design.

KIM: Yeah.

JESSICA: So, if they actively did it, just think about the change and the transformation that would happen at that school.

KIM: Yeah.

JESSICA: I wish we could reach a broader audience with this message.

KIM: For sure.

JESSICA: School design just needs to change in general.

KIM: Yeah. There’s actually a really cool school being designed in Raleigh right now. The Exploris Middle School is going to be in a building in downtown Raleigh and a building that’s going to be, they are shooting for LEED platinum-


KIM: They are going for WELL Building. WELL Building is basically based on biophilic design, so they have a lot of biophilic principles incorporated into there space and they are actually using a lot of CaraGreen materials so it’s exciting for us as a business as well. But they have some really beautiful spaces and you can just look at the design and say, “this is different, this is a fun place to be in, it doesn’t look like your typical school,” and, I mean, I want to go there. I can’t wait to visit it because, you know, its just a cool space.

JESSICA: Yeah, that’s great. And I think you know when you can do those ground up designs and just set a benchmark for other schools in the area, I mean, I’ve seen that happen with the magnet system as well where-

KIM: Yes.

JESSICA: -people see you are putting the children first, its not a routine, you know, and people are kind of trying to step up so when someone takes a leadership role, like Exploris is doing, I think that that “rising tide lifts all boats.” So hopefully other people follow suit.

KIM: Very true.

JESSICA: This is not just elementary. That’s just what I relate to because I have young kids but high school, middle school, same thing. And you know, also college. Colleges are on it.

KIM: What was the university that put the real grass, they put down sod in their library? Cornell University.

JESSICA: Yes, yes.

KIM: They put down sod in their library during exam week and the students loved it. There’s not an actual study on this, unfortunately, we don’t have any specific numbers about it, but they did it one year and they decided to do it another year because the students loved it so much. They were taking off their shoes, footing their feet in the grass, and sitting down in the grass. It was just a calming, so that’s you know, back to the actual biophilic design principles, nature in the space. It’s a very literal sense or design, they literally put grass on the floor.

JESSICA: Right. At CaraGreen we took inspiration from that. In our conference room, the carpeting is grass, you know?

KIM: It looks like grass, yeah.

JESSICA: Yeah. It’s like I said, people follow suit when they see a good example. I mean, we did the same thing from that Cornell study. That’s education. And its, its sort of near and dear. Let’s talk about healthcare. You know we talked about mental health and cardiovascular disease, mental health could apply to education. Obviously, you want that to be a less stressful environment.

KIM: Sure.

JESSICA: On the healthcare side, I mean our healthcare costs for cardiovascular disease and mental health are astronomical and you know stress is a big part of that so how can biophilic design be used in a healthcare setting and what’s the data to back that up?

KIM: Yeah, so in healthcare, these are some really interesting numbers because this all affects us at one time or another or someone that we know because we talked about those numbers earlier that affect you know so many people, especially Americans, the numbers that we talked about earlier, so this is a really hot topic. There are multiple studies that have been done showing that biophilic design results in shorter hospital stays, less medication use, and faster recover. So those are all positive things for not only the patients but also the hospital owners, the doctors, the nurses, all the staff. There’s actually one study that’s really really cool, they have a hospital and they equally divided rooms. So, half of the rooms had 46 percent more daylight than the other. And they measured the opioid use that the patients used in both sets of the rooms.

JESSICA: Wait, so, okay. I’m confused by the half. So, half the rooms had…

KIM: 46% more daylight than the other half.

JESSICA: Oh. Okay, okay. So, they almost had like 1.5x as much as the other half.

KIM: Yes.

JESSICA: Okay. I get it. So, they had more daylighting in half of the rooms.

KIM: Yes.

JESSICA: Okay. Okay.

KIM: Yep, so not only was the perception of pain less, in the rooms that had more daylighting, but because of that, they used less medication. So, they used 22% less in the rooms that had extra daylighting.

JESSICA: So, they were self-medicating, basically.

KIM: Yes, they were, so they were able to measure it very specifically.

JESSICA: And so… conclusion here is that the daylighting made them physically experience less pain, so they medicated themselves less.

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: Okay. I think that’s- daylighting obviously has been seen as a very positive thing but this is its application in a hospital setting, which you don’t really hear that much about. Again, I go back to my visualization, I mean picture a hospital room, I mean they are usually on the inside of the building, usually drab, sterile, you know, and you just, you don’t have you just don’t have daylighting. I mean they are usually trying to cram so many patient rooms into a facility and you’re just-

KIM: Last time I was in a hospital was when I had Sydney and I wanted the windows open, or the blinds open so that I could see outside. I actually had a really nice huge window. Open the blinds, guess what was outside. An HVAC unit. So, I didn’t have a nice view, I did have some sunlight so that was nice, but again, it kind of points to your fact that you were mentioning there that they are trying to have so many rooms in there that it limits how many people can have a nice view. And one thing that we’ve seen a lot of places do or a lot of design firms do is incorporate these healing gardens.

JESSICA: Oh yes.

KIM: And it gives a place for the staff to take a break and go outside but it also gives an opportunity for more rooms to have a better view.

JESSICA: Right. And they typically have some sort of water feature or rocks and benches and yeah, it’s nice for the patients, its nice for the staff to have a place to go as well. Okay so daylighting is a simple biophilic technique that has been shown to have this substantial impact. Think about what an even broader biophilic implementation can do. Lee Memorial, that job that used the Durat, they used all of these bright colors and that’s been shown to stimulate, you know, your mind and cheer you up. A lot of these children hospitals have used some bight colors to, you know, create more of an experience, and I think that’s what biophilic design does, it creates an experience. Think about when you go to the doctor’s office. When you walk in, if you see natural elements, if you see some effort that went into making sure you had a pleasant experience, that means so much more to you than walking in, taking a number, and sitting down like you are at the DMV.

KIM: My favorite doctor is one that has a huge fish tank. And it’s not a kid’s doctor’s office either.

JESSICA: Haha. Is there a shark in it?

KIM: No, there’s no shark, no risk there. It’s just really beautiful, you know, it gives you a little break, you know, maybe you’re a little anxious to see the doctor, and you’re sitting there and you re watching these fish swim around, and it just calms you down a little bit. It’s a really nice thing to incorporate in any space but especially loving these numbers about healthcare.

JESSICA: Yep. Yep. So, again, we have a cheat sheet on this on caragreen.com and even just Googling biophilic design in hospitals or reading that Terrapin Bright Green study will give you so much information and so much additional data on this. The one that’s near and dear to my heart, as you know, is office buildings. And we just moved into our space a couple months ago and one of the things that I wanted from the outset was to try and incorporate as much biophilic design as we could from the beginning. Now, our space was not ideal for this type of thing.

KIM: It’s a warehouse.

JESSICA: It’s a warehouse. So, we are having to get really creative and having tons of fun doing it by building in these elements and we are doing it over time.

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: We don’t have to do it all at once and we don’t have to do everything. But we’re slowly doing more and more, and it just really adds to the space.

KIM: It does.

JESSICA: I think it makes for a happier, more productive space as well.

KIM: Yeah, it’s really nice to watch it transform.

JESSICA: So… But how did we know that this was worth our while? Its these studies. Tell us about that University of Oregon study.

KIM: Yeah, so, they basically were studying the rate of absence in their existing offices, so they had their office split into thirds, one third had offices facing natural views, like trees or something outside, one-third had a street view, and then one third had an interior-only view. 10% of absenteeism was caused by the lack of views of nature.

JESSICA: So, they normalized it to all of those employees and then factored where they were sitting and saw that they could correlate 10% of absenteeism to where their office was located.

KIM: Exactly.

JESSICA: I thought that was a really cool study but my favorite one was the Sacramento Call Center.

KIM: Okay. That’s a good one.

JESSICA: So, you’ve got this call center, picture a call center. You’ve got 200 drones lined up in rows, answering phones, trying not to hear each other but it really sounds like a Wall Street office. What they did was they looked at all the different factors involved, and the productivity of those employees and they found that employees that had a view of nature, those window facing employees answered calls 6-7% faster. Now I know that this doesn’t sound like the world’s most exciting job, but if that’s your source of revenue, and how you measure your company, 6-7%? I’ll take that back any day at CaraGreen.

KIM: Absolutely. So, they are more productive because of the view.

JESSICA: They are more productive, exactly. So, what they did was they said “okay, how much is it going to cost us to reconfigure this office,” right? So it was going to cost them $1000 per employee to reconfigure their office and give everyone views of nature. It resulted in a $3000 increase in productivity per employee.

KIM: Wow.

JESSICA: Their payback time was 4 months.

KIM: 4 months is so fast.

JESSICA: It’s so fast. And then they just reaped the benefits after that.

KIM: Absolutely.

JESSICA: So, that’s a really great example. Now not everyone can reconfigure their entire office space, but I think we’ve given some really great examples of some things you can do. Its not all of nothing. Okay, so we talked about education, we talked about healthcare.

KIM: Offices.

JESSICA: Offices. Retail. This is another good one. So, what’s the annual market, how much do we spend on retail every year?

KIM: $3.9 trillion market. That’s a lot of money.

JESSICA: Okay, what is that per person?

KIM: 13k$ per person per year.

JESSICA: Per year in retail shops. I can tell you right now, I don’t spend that, but Amazon, Amazon may beg to differ, but it doesn’t count, this is actual physical storefronts, what we are talking about here.

KIM: Right, right, yeah. So, basically, locations that have more natural elements designed into their space, consumers will spend 20% more on food and 25% more on goods, so when I think of that, in my mind, I think of food, I think of like Whole Foods or like, more natural, like the Fresh Market, stores like that.

JESSICA: Where they’ve got like the wood-

KIM: Wood cladding, yeah, or things like that. And then retail I think of like REI, they like literally have tents set up in their space.  They have, definitely the wood cladding, they have some really, some things that make you think more of nature.

JESSICA: Well, even a lot of these salad shops and these bowls, they are really incorporating-

KIM: Very true.

JESSICA: I mean, think about the Core locations. Core uses that charred wood, which has that nice wood grain, that bright orange, which in food settings, I mean orange and food are, like, hand in hand. We’ll talk about colors in another podcast episode. But also, that acoustic panels and stuff, so you can do a lot of that and you start to see it more in retail settings. But effectively, what you’re saying is that instead of spending $80 on a shirt, in that same store, if they would’ve incorporated biophilic design, I’ll spend $100. So, I’ll spend 25% more on it. As for food, I’ll walk into a natural looking façade of a store over you know, Sunshine Noodles, and I’ll spend 20% more. So instead of spending $20 on a meal, I’ll spend $24 on that meal. That’s a lot of noodles.

KIM: Haha, that is a lot of noodles.

JESSICA: But, you know, I think you see it a lot more even in strip malls and stuff, they just really spend a lot of time on the outside of the retail space to make it more inviting and engaging and typically that’s, you know, a natural element.

KIM: And you even see that in mall design these days. A lot of malls are not just one big building with a bunch of shops on the inside. You walk inside to outside and then back inside, there’s different pathways and things like that. So, it’s becoming a lot more popular.

JESSICA: What’s the name of that one store, the one that had the recycled blue jean insulation, they were-

KIM: Madewell?

JESSICA: Yeah… They were collecting all the blue jeans and they were making insulation out if it. What was the name of it?

KIM: Madewell.

JESSICA: Yeah, that was really, that was really neat to see. Okay. So, retail, you know. We covered, and you know, it’s not, retail is a little bit different, that’s not really about, it’s not as, education and healthcare are kind of more personal. I don’t want to know that I’m spending more on a space just because of how its designed but again, its to notice those things. The point is being around nature gives you comfort and you’re willing to invest more because nature is involved.

KIM: Right.

JESSICA: I would spend more to send my kid to a school where they’ve thought about those things. I’d spent more, you bet your butt I’d spend more, to go to a hospital that says, that shows that they care about me having a shorter stay. I don’t want to be spending, I want to see them putting effort into making sure I get home sooner and healthier, not that I stay longer so that they can make more money. And biophilic design shows that they care about those things.

KIM: And in retail, it kind of makes me think of the convenience charge. Sometimes I’m willing to spend a little bit more money at a place that is closer to me because I don’t want to drive the extra 20 minutes or whatever the scenario is. So, retail, I kind of don’t mind spending more money in a space that they probably spent more money designing it in that way-


KIM: -because I’m going to enjoy it more, I’m going to have a lower stress level. You just, you know, you pay more for things like that.

JESSICA: And you know what, its like a good waiter or waitress, you know?

KIM: That’s a good analogy.

JESSICA: Tip as discretionary. And if you’ve done a good job and I see, if I feel like you care about me, I’m willing to invest more.

KIM: For sure.

JESSICA: Alright, well that was fun. I think we had some really neat examples. There’re some easy ways to incorporate biophilic design, I mean let’s get outside, let’s bring the outside in as much as we can. And, you know, you’ll have happier kids, teachers, doctors.

KIM: More productive workers.

JESSICA: Yeah, and your healthier patients, more productive workers, that’s the thing I care about. Anyways, Kim has got to get back to work. Thank you for listening to Build Green Live Green.

We offer many education courses for design professionals, with one specifically detailing biophilic design. Others talk about current building standards and their principles. Check out our website at caragreen.com to see our full offering of continuing education courses, which are eligible to earn AIA, IDCEC, and GBCI credit, as well as our full range of sustainable materials, which can help you with your new biophilic design goals.

For a written manuscript of this episode as well as supporting resources, Visit our website at caragreen.com/blog. Want to know more about a specific industry related topic? Shoot us an email at social@caragreen.com.

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