After reading this public health post by Gov.uk the reaffirmation that a good quality landscape reduces stress, sadness and makes people feel better has inspired me to look at my own surroundings and explore the green spaces in the locations that I inhabit the most.
Is there enough green space? How should it make me feel? How does it make me feel?
Greenery and wellbeing
The obvious benefits of green space is the opportunity for physical exercise, group socialising, the visual pleasure and combating of climate change (plants capture C02).
But in the list of principles from the Landscape Institute's statement on Public Health and Landscape: Creating healthy places, their 4th principle lists that healthy places “optimise opportunities for working, learning and development”. So from that point of view, I want to explore how our office green space stimulates this principle as well as employee wellbeing benefits.
The green space - is there enough?
The green space around my office building consists of large grassy areas (filled with rabbit burrows), a row of hedges around the outside which help to reduce the noise pollution from the nearby train line, an area for PV panels, and a deliberately designed ‘wild meadow’ which is home to flowers, animals, a wormery and our onsite beehives.
The meadow is also home to a ground source heat pump system which provides renewable heating to our building – but as it’s underground you wouldn’t have a clue that it was there (in fact I don’t even think the rabbits realise!)
But before I deviate back to talking about our green space, I just wanted to linger a moment longer on the ground source heat pump system, because creating a green building is just as important – or arguably more important, than the green space around it.
A green building is a building that’s sustainable in terms of its structure, its processes or both. In the building I work in we focus mainly on its processes, ensuring it is resource efficient in its operation – and the ground source heat pump is a big part of achieving that. We also have effective mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems (otherwise known as an MVHR) – one of the most energy efficient ways to ventilation a building while preserving the indoor temperature – crucial to occupant wellbeing.
But back to the green space (which I think you can tell is plentiful)…
Exploring the green space - how does it make me feel?
The best way for me to determine if we have enough green space and how it makes me feel is to go out and explore for myself. Now I have to admit, in winter I do not venture outside much if I don’t have to. But as the weather gets warmer I often head out there on our lunch breaks to eat, chat and wander.
Thankfully we have shaded table areas, plenty of trees and a helpful guide as to what to expect out there in the meadow area.
Out in the meadow I can see the beehives – which I hear has over 3,000 bees in it, so these are best to be admired from afar. There are also patches of maintained short grass and wild grass with flowers roamed in by rabbits.
In the meadow I can also see ducks and other birds going about their daily business in the green space.
So how do I feel?
Well for me, I’ve always worked in a location where green space is plentiful so you could say I’m spoilt with the offerings of my surroundings. I have never worked in the city so in hindsight, having the green space taken away could really rattle me.
I appreciate it and I’m so glad that my company encourage the growth of nature in the green spaces available. Would I be more stressed without it? Do I feel like it enhances my working space? Of course I have to say yes, because without it I think part of me would feel void of something that I’ve subconsciously deemed customary.
And I have to add that every few weeks a month, we have on-site a group of primary school children who, as part of our Learning Curve primary development initiative, wander around the green space and meadow to gain a better understanding of nature, the environment and what we all need to do to sustain and maintain it.
Today however, there are no school children so the quietness – which although is enjoyable, makes me concerned that not enough people are getting out here and appreciating the surroundings. Don’t they realise how good for their well-being it can be?
Oh well, perhaps after reading this blog both my colleagues – and you, will explore your own green spaces for yourself.
So in conclusion, I think green space does create a healthy space and I think it’s up to us as individuals to ensure we utilise it for our working, learning, development and most importantly wellbeing.
However, I am glad to see my company encourages this this via learning programmes, outdoor facilities and the upkeep of plants and animals. I just need to encourage my colleagues to join me out there, so based on that, I think another picnic is due!
Ellina Webb is a Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric
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