Growing your own air, worth the effort or not?

January 16, 2010 at 10:58 am Leave a comment

I have been looking at and studying the various articles that purport to let you improve your own personal indoor environment with the addition of more and in sometimes specific plants to your home or office.

I am of two minds on the subject in that logically since photosynthesis generates breathable oxygen and uses up carbon dioxide, at least according to the science classes I had in high school and college. there should be some truth to this assertion. However the real question comes from the other effects that result from going down this path.

The article found on the Healthy Child Blog (http://healthychild.org/blog/comments/growing_fresh_air_with_8_powerful_plants/) is typical of one type that pushes this agenda with specific plants with incomplete science to back up their assertions.  The main problem with this article is that they don’t mention the shear number of plants it will take to actually make a measurable difference in your space.  Also look down in the comments section on this article and you find that there are often other concerns, especially with the toxicity of the plants being suggested.  I know from experience that trying to specify a set of plants for my backyard that weren’t toxic to either my children or pets was a substantial task and set my remodel back weeks.

Now I have an example of the better type of article on this subject from TED.com (http://www.ted.com/talks/kamal_meattle_on_how_to_grow_your_own_fresh_air.html).  If you have not experienced the TED talks I also encourage you to spend some time on the site and simply wander, the breadth of the topics covered is amazing.  However in this talk the presenter gets into some specifics with his example in a commercial space.  Depending on the section of his talk you either need 11 or 4 plants per person, they need to be tended daily including cleaning leaves along with the other issues of having live plants in an interior space.

In a commercial space you shouldn’t have the toxicity concerns and if his numbers prove out the 20% increase in productivity should easily cover any costs of maintenance.  In my 20 plus years of caring for buildings there are always issues with live plants regarding insects and seepage on the carpet and the like. These can all be addressed up front with some simple rules like no dumping your old coffee in the plants and maintaining pans under all of the locations.

I know that NASA and other government space agencies have been studying this topic for years and so the data coming from these sources should be sound.  Therefore I think that a little shopping for plants at least in my home office may be in order.  I will keep you updated on my observations!

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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Entry filed under: Design, Environment, Recycling. Tags: , , .

Building Technology Update for Dec. 26, 2009 Building Technology Update for Feb. 6, 2010

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