“The Economics of Biophilia”, produced by Terrapin Bright Green, is a recipient of the 2014 EDRA Achievement Award.
“The Economics of Biophilia: Why Designing with Nature in Mind Makes Financial Sense” is a forty-page summation of a research effort that codifies several bodies of scientific study – in environmental psychology, neurobiology and epidemiology – into palpable, design-oriented concepts with aggregated financial impacts for individuals and society.
The whitepaper provides insights to how humanity’s biological connections with nature impact our health and wellbeing in the built environment and makes the business case for incorporating biophilia – humanity’s innate affinity for nature – into the places where we live and work. It shares several examples of small investments in biophilic design that lead to very healthy returns: integrating views to nature into an office space can save over $2,000 per employee per year in office costs, and providing patients with views to nature could save over $93 million annually in nationwide healthcare costs. These examples, based on scientific research, serve to demonstrate the financial potential for the large-scale deployment of biophilic design in hospitals – speeding up patient healing; in offices – boosting productivity; in schools – improving test scores and attendance; in retail outlets – boosting sales; and in communities – reducing criminality.
This approach to presenting the evidence for and value of biophilia has resonated with the design community. Since first being publicized at the US Green Building Council’s launch of the Center for Green Schools in 2012, “The Economics of Biophilia” whitepaper has been cited in a number of publications and enthusiasm for wider popularization has prompted requests for contributions to the World Green Building Council’s “Business Case for Green Building” report (2013), and the second edition of Sustainable Residential Interiors (Wiley, expected 2014). The whitepaper has been established as required reading for university courses and has been championed by various institutions from the Harvard School of Public Health Center for Health and the Global Environment in Massachusetts, to the International Society of Biourbanism in Italy. It has also gained international attention from practitioners in Latin America, Europe and Australia; requests have been received for Spanish and French translations.
In addition, concepts from the whitepaper have encouraged one multi-national corporation to incorporate biophilia into their global design guidelines, which is supported by investment in experimentation and measurement for improved design development and implementation.
Finally, the U.S. General Services Administration facilitated a webinar for 200 of its employees on “The Economics of Biophilia”, and Lamin-Art Inc. has used the whitepaper to build the Continuing Education Unit “Human Impact of Designing with Nature”, which will have been delivered to architects, interior designers, building owners and developers in 80 different firms across the U.S. just in the last quarter of 2013.
The quality of thought and analysis invested in the research effort has positioned “The Economics of Biophilia” as a seminal piece in the global discussion of health, wellbeing and environmental design, making the whitepaper an exemplary recipient for the 2014 EDRA Achievement Award.
Terrapin Bright Green is an environmental consulting and strategic planning firm committed to improving the human environment through high performance development, policy, and related research. The firm represents an extensive global network of scientists, engineers, and technical experts on the leading edge of research in their respective fields, bringing a multidisciplinary perspective to planning, design, and policy questions.