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01 February 2024 | Theme story

From indoor greening to vertical gardens

From indoor greening to vertical gardens

Want to spend as much time outside as you can, even at work? Years ago, this wasn’t a priority but nowadays, more and more companies are looking at ways of offering their employees a great outdoor experience in their work environment. Indoor greening, vertical gardens, and green solutions around office spaces. Lunch together at a long outdoor table or meetings in the shade of an office tree. Happy together, that’s our ambition.

Everyone knows that getting some fresh air and spending time outdoors is hugely beneficial, reducing stress, improving our concentration and boosting our mental and physical health. But how aware are we of the impact of outdoor spaces or an outdoor experience at work? The pandemic has forced us all to re-examine our way of working and give up certain routines. Switching to hybrid working has also made employees around the world more aware of benefits of a good workplace environment, with indoor greening and green solutions around office spaces as a nice bonus. “More and more companies are investing in a green building envelope”, says Ties van Lambalgen of Van den Berk Nurseries. “In addition to the impact on our mental well-being, there is also the ecological value pattern, and you can increase productivity within the workplace environment. Having lunch together outside, meeting in green surroundings, these are all things that are becoming increasingly important in the workplace.” This year, in June, people around the world consciously sought out a workplace in nature or urban green spaces as part of the fifth Outdoor Office Day.

Van den Berk Nurseries respond to green trends

“Because of the noticeable lack in green space around office buildings, we are now taking an increasingly technical approach”, Ties adds. “We have observed a rise in vertical greenery both indoors and outdoors, as there is less and less full soil for the roots of trees in cities or around buildings. The demand for green blocks of flats is also on the rise, where we plant trees on balconies and roofs for an instant impression of greenery.” This, of course, is in stark contrast with the slowness of nature. “On average, it takes 16 years to get a tree from the nursery to the customer. This requires us to hazard a guess today about trends in twenty years from now. We have noticed increased demand for multi-stemmed magnolias, birches and fruit trees, both for private homes and in the workplace environment. Because of the visibility, shade and privacy they provide, in addition to the natural experience. Pines are also popular, because of their gnarly structure, which pairs nicely with a more architectural design.”

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Green façade solutions from Sioen

But besides the aesthetic aspect, the many health benefits and spending time outside together, we have also noticed increased social awareness about innovative ways of mitigating the effects of climate change. Green buildings produce fewer emissions and consume less energy. At textile company Sioen, they came up with an interesting solution in the form of vertical gardens. “Greentexx launched its green façade systems to market in 2019", Benny Pycke, global product manager at Sioen, explains. “We use high-tech canvases to build vertical gardens. In addition to reducing heat stress in city centres with cool rainwater, they can also be used to create indoor ‘living walls’ to increase people's wellbeing with a natural environment. This is called biophilic design. Plants and green wall systems have a natural acoustic capacity, promoting optimal air purification. With our outdoor installations, we also contribute to the urban ecosystem by creating a water buffer and slowing down the wind." A winning product with many purposes as you can install a vertical garden on any wall, provided you have power, water supply and drainage, Wi-Fi for monitoring, and a load-bearing capacity of around 20 kilos per square metre available. This includes relatively simple annual technical system maintenance and pruning twice a year. Soon we will also launch Mobi, a two-metre mobile unit with a pre-cultivation panel, including a water tank, pump and timer, which you control with an app. Ideal for use as a room divider in a workplace setting.” Or how the integration of greenery in cities, offices, and public spaces is set to evolve in years to come thanks to the many scientific reports that highlight the importance of greenery in our daily lives.

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