Considering research enquiry into biophilic urbanism and office worker productivity

Reeve, Angela, Desha, Cheryl, Kramer, Caroline, Hargroves, Charlie, & Newman, Peter (2014) Considering research enquiry into biophilic urbanism and office worker productivity. In Kabisch, Nadia, Larondelle, Neele, Reeve, Angela, & Artmann, Martina (Eds.) Human-Environmental Interactions in Cities : Challenges and Opportunities of Urban Land Use Planning and Green Infrastructure. Cambridge Scholars Publishing , pp. 33-53.

This is the latest version of this eprint.

View at publisher


In cities, people spend a significant portion of their time indoors, much of which is in office buildings. The quality and nature of these spaces have the potential to be a strong determinant of people’s health and wellbeing. There is a body of evidence that suggests experiences of nature increase the rate of attention recovery, reduce stress, depression and anxiety, and increase cognitive abilities. Further, the presence of nature inside buildings (such as pot plants and internal green walls) can improve indoor air quality, potentially reducing illness and increasing cognitive function. Urban design that integrates nature into the built environment to provide these benefits, among others, is called ‘biophilic urbanism’ and is the subject of growing international interest and research. The potential for these benefits to increase worker productivity in office buildings is of particular interest, as this could significantly increase the financial performance of office building-based organisations. However, productivity is a complex concept that is difficult to define, and affected by a multitude of factors, which make it difficult to measure. This inability to quantify productivity increases from investments in nature- experiences in office buildings is currently a significant barrier to such investments.

Within this context, this paper considers opportunities for research to explore the relationship between office-based nature experiences and productivity, by reviewing existing research in this field and reflecting on the authors’ own experiences. This review has a particular focus on the importance of quantifying this link in order to encourage private property owners to voluntarily integrate nature into buildings to provide city-wide ecosystem service benefits. The paper begins with a contextual overview of how biophilic urbanism can potentially increase worker productivity. Existing methods of measuring and evaluating the performance of biophilic urbanism within the context of office buildings are then explored, along with a discussion of issues with such methods that are currently limiting investment in biophilic urbanism to increase worker productivity and wellbeing. This includes a summary of a survey within a Perth office building to explore the impact of views of nature through a window. Drawing on these insights, the paper makes recommendations regarding opportunities for focusing future investigations to enhance understanding of how biophilic urbanism can contribute to increased wellbeing and productivity in office buildings.

This paper builds on work conducted as part of the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre Project 1.5, Harnessing the Potential of Biophilic Urbanism in Australia, which considered the role of nature integrated into the built environment in responding to emerging challenges of climate change, resource shortages and population pressures, while providing a host of co- benefits to a range of stakeholders.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 72089
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: biophilic urbanism, productivity, real estate, urban nature, urban design
ISBN: 9781443858953
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 26 May 2014 01:36
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2016 04:06

Available Versions of this Item

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page