The office of Icon Group, an engineering consultancy specialised in energy and electromechanical applications, is located close to the urban railway in Athens. Because of the noise, employees have to keep the windows closed and use air conditioning and ventilation in summer and winter. This leads to high costs for electricity and poor air quality in the rooms. Energy Scouts Ioanna Zitogiannou and Nikos Provis looked for ways to save energy and better the microclimate in their office.
Do plants improve the micro climate at the workplace?
Important factors of ergonomics, which aims at adapting the working environment to human needs, are safety at work, noise, light and lighting, temperature, humidity, and electromagnetic fields. The Energy Scout team focused on the use of plants on their premises. Outside the office, deciduous trees will shade the building during the hot summer months and at the same time allow for natural lighting in winter when they drop their leaves. Suitable for the two-storey building and the location is the sweet acacia with a height of up to four meters. Indoors, the Scouts have provided plants with special positive characteristics for the room climate. Sword ferns help to balance the humidity of the room, syngonium and cacti can serve as filters for air pollutants.
Plants as an investment for a better microclimate
The investment costs for the plants amount to a total 223 €, with 120 € for the four acacias for outdoor greening and 103 € for 27 indoor plants. The scouts expect annual energy savings from less air conditioning of around 1,330 kWh. This corresponds to a reduction of 10 % of the relevant electricity consumption and a reduction of 1,010 kg of CO2 annually. A precondition is fully grown shrubs. In order to verify their estimation, the scouts will measure and document power consumption of the air conditioning at regular intervals on a long term basis. Furthermore, the Energy Scouts assume a perceived improvement of the microclimate at the workplace.
Energy Scouts Ioanna Zitogiannou and Nikos Provis won first place in the Greek competition of projects in 2018.