Bringing the weather inside is usually the opposite of what you want from a building envelope. However, new research from the University of Oregon, described in an article by The Washington Post, aims to show the physical and psychological benefits of letting nature inside. Signs of nature and change are both beneficial to our well-being, yet we don’t always have access to them when inside buildings—and humans are now spending 90% of our lives inside. But even in an urban setting, where nature may be hard to come by, there’s no escaping the weather. When researchers found ways to bring things like wind and dappled reflections of the sun inside, they found that exposure to these natural movements lowered heart rates, while being less distracting than similar artificially generated movements.
By now, green buildings are a familiar concept, but the article in The Washington Post proposes moving beyond green buildings as we know them today. While green building can be great in new construction, that excludes a lot of existing buildings that could and should also benefit from an intervention of nature. Ideally, buildings should actively demonstrate their relationship with nature, moving beyond simply “doing no harm.”