Support access to nature beyond M02: Access to Nature by further incorporating nature through interior and exterior design, nature views and access to nearby nature.
Access to nature plays a key role in helping relieve stress and mental fatigue, support focus and encourage overall mental well-being. Increasing nature contact at work may offer a simple, population-based approach to enhance workplace health promotion efforts. Exposure to plants and other natural elements has been linked with decreased levels of diastolic blood pressure, depression and anxiety; increased attentional capacity; better recovery from job stress and illness; increased psychological well-being; and increased pain tolerance. The incorporation of plants in the work environment is linked with improved employee morale, decreased absenteeism and increased worker efficiency and job satisfaction. Additionally, incorporation of water into built spaces can relieve stress, promote satisfaction and enhance performance. Research also links exposure to green or natural views is associated with various positive emotional and cognitive health outcomes, including stress reduction, memory recall and other aspects of cognitive performance. Lastly, access to outdoor green spaces is associated with a range of short- and long-term mental health benefits for individuals across the life span, from children to older adults. The many associated benefits include lower levels of anxiety and depression as well as improved mental recovery from stress and fatigue.
The benefits of nature access can be achieved through numerous pathways, such as direct (e.g., plants in the office) and indirect (e.g., window views) access. The quantity of exposure to nature also has an impact: a dose-response relationship has been found with exposure to indoor nature, with research finding that as workday nature contact increased, perceived job stress, subjective health complaints and sickness absence decreased. Additionally, researchers hypothesize that access to outdoor green spaces impacts mental health and wellbeing through cognitive restoration, and that physiological and emotional changes take place when individuals are exposed to natural settings. The benefits of nature access have been found across diverse age groups, and supporting access to outdoor green and natural spaces can support the health and well-being of a wide range of individuals within a built community.
Providing access to nature in built spaces can play a key role in supporting healthy environments by mitigating stressors and positively impacting cognitive and emotional health, focus, productivity and overall well-being.
Provide Enhanced Access to Nature (1 point)
Projects complete at least two of the following:
Outdoor nature access facilitated by the conditions below:
- At least 25% of the exterior building site area consists of either landscaped grounds, rooftop gardens or other natural elements open to regular building occupants.
- Consists of at least 70% plants or natural elements, including tree canopies (within the 25% specified above).
A narrative that describes how the design of the exterior building site area encourages occupant access to nature.
Indoor nature access facilitated by the conditions below:
- Any combination of indoor plants (e.g., potted plants, plant beds, plant walls) and/or water feature(s) are within a direct line of sight of at least 75% of workstations and seats within conference rooms, lecture halls or classrooms.
- All water features (if included), use ultraviolet sanitation or other technology to address water safety.
- A narrative that describes how the design of the interior building site area and placement of indoor nature encourage occupant access to nature.
Nature views facilitated by the conditions below:
- Views are available within a direct line of sight of at least 75% of workstations and seats within conference rooms, lecture halls or classrooms. Views must comprise natural areas or landscapes, such as green spaces (e.g., park, forest) or blue spaces (e.g., ocean, lake, river).
- A narrative that describes how the design of the interior building site area encourages occupant access to nature.
Nearby nature access facilitated by the conditions below:
- At least one green space or blue space is within 300 m [1,000 ft] walk distance from the project and available to all regular building occupants during open hours of the space(s). Green spaces must be a minimum of 0.5 hectare [1.25 acre].
- A narrative that describes how occupants are encouraged to access nearby nature (e.g., presence of signage or maps; availability of breaks during the workday).
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