Accounting for Nature: An Audit & Ranking of Indoor Green Spaces in Student-Use Buildings at Dalhousie University
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Poor indoor air quality has been linked to an increase in health conditions such as asthma, lung cancers, cardiovascular disease, decreased lung function, and more. (Claudio, 2011; Dr. Daniel Rainham, personal communication, February 7, 2019). One approach to improving indoor air quality is through the use of indoor green spaces (Torpy, Zavattaro & Irga, 2017). Indoor plants help lower Carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, produce oxygen, and filter harmful toxins from the air (Claudio, 2011). This paper identifies the potential to increase indoor green spaces near student study spaces on Dalhousie University's Studley Campus highly trafficked buildings. Additional green spaces would improve the air quality within these buildings and create a welcoming, positive atmosphere for students to learn in. Audits were completed in five buildings on Dalhousie Studley Campus. The purpose of these audits was to determine the current amount of green space per study seat in the chosen buildings as well as assess the potential space for additional plants. Additionally, data was retrieved from CO2 sensors in the buildings. Some sensors showed levels above 1000 ppm, a level at which humans can experience drowsiness (Kane International, n.d.). Furthermore, it was established that sensors in Killam were non-existent; and that the data received for the Mona Campbell building was faulty. A thorough analysis of results by way of a weighted matrix found that all buildings would benefit from green space development. However, the Killam Library was ranked as the building most in need of additional development followed by the Marion McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building. After a thorough analysis of the data, the research team recommends the ranking provided in this report be used in future discussions with relevant parties when considering potential building improvements. Applying the findings into future endeavours aligns with campus environmental initiatives and encourages a greener future. Furthermore, it is noted that there is much room for further internal and academic studies on this topic. There is pressing need to assess the functionality of sensors currently in place in buildings on Dalhousie’ Studley campus. In addition, a cost/benefit analysis would be beneficial to understand the costs related to implementation of this studies recommendations.