Investigating Indoor Green Space at Dalhousie University
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This research project explores the various benefits of indoor green space on human health and aims to increase the ability of Dalhousie students to reap the benefits of nature exposure. Through reviewing the concepts of Nature Deficit Disorder, Attention Restoration Theory, and the Biophilia Hypothesis a list of criteria was generated in order to evaluate each publicly accessible buildingon Dalhousie’s Studley campus and identify where indoor green space is present. The health benefits of nature exposure are well documented throughout the literature. It is evident that without nature exposure, humans are at risk of damaging their psychological, emotional, physiological, and spiritual health. In order to form a research project that was relevant to the Dalhousie community, this project aimed to answer the question: What is considered indoorgreen space and where can it be found on Dalhousie’s Studley campus? To answer this question, an extensive review of the literature was conducted in order to determine what was considered ‘indoor green space’. However, a definition of indoor green space was absent. This lead the researchers to develop criteria of their own,reflecting the concepts of biophilic design. Using these criteria, publicly accessible buildings on Dalhousie’s Studley campus were evaluated and scored for the presence of indoor green space. The criteria includes 6 areas to be evaluated, including the presence and diversity of greenery, presence of natural light, view of outdoor green space, visible and audible water, level of engagement, and natural analogs. To make the findings as comprehensive as possible, all 18 publicly accessible buildings were surveyed. Each space was scored independently by all researchers involved to increase the reliability of the findings. The mean scores received range from 2.8 to 22.2out of a possible 40 points, with a relatively even spread of scores found. Dalhousie’s buildings did a good job of incorporating natural light, engaging spaces and natural analogs into indoor spaces on campus, but there was found to be no water features present in thespaces surveyed. It was also found that the presence of plants made a significant impact on the scores, as 20 out of a possible 40 points were allotted to greenery. Adding plants to any space, would help to increase the rating scores applied to these spaces. The incorporation of natural analogs is another method of creating more green indoor spaces on campus. It is hoped that these findings can be used to learn where elements of indoor green space can best be implemented on campus to maximize their benefits for students, and faculty members. Spaces on campus that are conducive to studying and improving students’ health are vital and it is hope that this project can help students find usable indoor green space.