Biophilic Design: Bringing the Outside In

Sourced from UrbanLand

Humans, on average, spend the vast majority of their time indoors. Yet scientific studies on human health conclude that spending time in and around nature, or even just looking at natural elements, can have wide-ranging benefits. The real estate industry is closing the gap between these conflicting concepts by bringing nature indoors with biophilic building design.

Whether as a living wall, an indoor water feature, a green roof, wood building materials, or art that evokes nature, biophilia is growing in popularity. Biophilic design—the practice of connecting people and nature within built environments and communities—is making spaces more authentic and memorable in a meaningful way.

Within the real estate industry, building certifications and standards are major drivers for the adoption of biophilic design concepts; many green certification programs require buildings to adopt various biophilic elements to achieve increasing levels of recognition.

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) certifies buildings under the Living Building Challenge, which infuses biophilic design into nearly all its requirements. The WELL Certification, operated by the Inter­national WELL Building Institute, includes biophilia concepts, broken down into phases, as part of its health and human experience design framework and is built around seven key elements of wellness—air, light, water, nourishment, fitness, comfort, and mind. This is modeled after the ILFI’s Living Building Challenge, a performance standard for buildings to create spaces with a regenerative design framework that, like a flower, give more than they take. For WELL, this includes incorporating nature throughout a space with use of plants and symbolic references to elements found in nature; incorporating natural patterns throughout the design; and providing sufficient opportunities for human interaction with nature within the building and the surrounding project.

The U.S. Green Building Council began offering a biophilia pilot credit in April 2018 as part of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Records indicate that the biophilia credits remain popular among LEED users several years into their availability.

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