Sustainable buildings and biophilic design
Elements of biophilic design have been incorporated into sustainable building rating systems for years. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program incorporated elements of biophilic design into their first version in 1999 with the inclusion of credits for indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for daylight and views. The WELL standard encourages biophilic design through two related features. The first, Feature 88, requires the development of a biophilic plan to address how the WELL building incorporates nature and nature-inspired patterns into a space, as well as how it provides opportunities for human-nature interactions both within the building and in the site space external to the structure. The second, Feature 100, Quantitate Biophilia, encourages project teams to include water features, plantings, and access to outdoor areas.
Biophilic design creates buildings connecting to nature both inside and outside and can potentially increase health and wellness, as well as increase productivity and reduce human resource costs. While biophilic design is becoming increasingly popular and many designers and sustainable building rating systems have adopted its concepts, research empirically demonstrating the biophilic hypothesis in buildings is still being gathered.
Flooring supports biophilic design by replicating colours and textures found in nature, and by creating graduated transitions commonly seen in nature. Whether flooring designs are inspired by nature or made from natural elements, they can help to nurture a connection to the outdoors.
Amy Costello, PE, LEED AP, WELL AP, is the sustainability manager at Armstrong Flooring. She is on the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) board of director’s advisory council, and chairs the USGBC indoor environmental quality (IEQ) technical advisory group and ASTM’s sustainable manufacturing subcommittee. Costello received her master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She can be reached at email@example.com.