In some ways, keeping a plant alive can seem like a bit of a hassle, at least for those of us who have a hard time remembering to water things—especially at work. But it might be worth keeping a watering can handy at your desk if you want to be more productive and less “sick.”
Cerys Heroman, a landscape designer with Heroman Services Plant Company, is a sixth generation horticulture specialist working in a family-owned business. Though their family has been in the plant business for 187 years, the Heromans are part of a tradition. They are also focused on the future of landscaping, one avenue of which is creating healthier, more productive workplace environments by bringing more of the outdoors into offices and businesses.
Founded in Louisiana, Heroman Services moved its headquarters to its Pensacola office—which has been open for over 10 years—six years ago and began working to get the word out locally about the benefits of interior landscaping.
“The reason we focus so much more on commercial versus residential is [because] we spend most of our time in the work environment,” Heroman said, who explained the benefits of maintaining indoor plants aren’t purely aesthetic—numerous studies have concluded that having plants in commercial environments decreases absenteeism and increases job performance and satisfaction in workers.
“The biggest benefit is to get rid of something NASA has actually termed as ‘Sick Building Syndrome,’” Heroman said. “In North America, about 20 to 30 percent of all of our buildings are considered sick buildings.”
Everything from carpeting and drywall to doors opening and allowing outdoor air toxins in can contribute to the pollutants indoors, which are recirculated through central air and heat systems. “You’ll find that people who have these so-called sick buildings, their employees complain of eye, throat, and nose irritation, an increased amount of headaches, dry skin, difficulty concentrating and overall unpleasantness,” Heroman said.
The good news is that plants act as natural air filters that are relatively inexpensive and effective in improving indoor air quality.
“If you have one plant for every one hundred square-feet of room, you can reduce Sick Building Syndrome up to 12 percent within 24 hours of installing the plant,” Heroman said. She recommends one medium-size floor plant or two to three small plants in an office to produce similar results.
Even if a building isn’t “sick,” plants have also proven to increase productivity on basic typing and comprehension tests, according to studies Heroman referenced. “When they did the testing with plants, the person’s timing and accuracy increased by 12 percent,” she said.
There are monetary savings associated with plants as well. Plants naturally cool buildings, which helps companies save on power bills and they also are effective for noise reduction, which can decrease auditory distractions.
And if anyone needs further bottom-line specific data, the organization Green Plants for Green Buildings, which Heroman Services is a provider, reports the return on investment for plants in businesses is on average 334 percent, which is mainly attributed to a 14 percent reduction in absenteeism.
Plants can also drive sales in commercial and retail environments. “People perceive malls, shopping centers and organizations that have plants as higher end,” Heroman said. “They are willing to spend more money because they feel like these places are more top-notch. They feel more comfortable, and they feel quite a bit less stressed.”
From malls to hospitals—where indoor plants have proven to reduce the length of patient stays—the benefits of interior landscaping have become a message Heroman and others at the company are happy to spread.
Heroman Services offers interior landscape design ranging from table arrangements to full-on landscape design of a building, as well as exterior landscaping services, container gardens, green walls and green roofs. “We’re your one stop shop, basically,” Heroman said.
In 2013, one of Heroman Services’ main outreach efforts was a plant giveaway and informational event in downtown Pensacola during National Indoor Plant Week, which is held in September. This year, Heroman Services is planning on developing an awareness event as well. In the meantime, they encourage everyone to get on board, add a few plants, and have a healthier, more pleasant indoor experience.
Heroman Services Plant Company
440 E. Heinberg St.