Green rooftops may be just starting to catch on in North America, but around the world countries like France have seen the light – green roofs can cool buildings down and lower their energy use and improve the air quality in cities.
But there may be a psychological benefit to these rooftop garden in addition to the environmental benefits. A study published in the journal Environmental Psychology found that a brief, 40-second-long “microbreak” involving simply looking at an image of a green roof could improve focus and efficiency significantly(1).
This research adds to the growing body of work making the connection between nature and work performance.
Health Advantages Of Nature
Much research has been done on the subject of just how interacting with nature can affect our performance at work – for example, in one study, subjects who took 12 minutes to watch a nature documentary before playing a work-related game were shown to engage in more sustainable behavior than those who went into the game without viewing the documentary first(2).
But that’s not the only benefit that regular exposure to nature can have. In a recent issue of the journal BioScience, a number of researchers conducted a review of studies on the subject of nature exposure and health, finding that:
“Individual-level studies have revealed relatively strong associations between exposure to nature and improved healing times, reduced allergies, and enhanced social cohesion. In the immediate short term, exposure to nature has also been shown to correlate with reduced stress, improved cognitive ability, and enhanced happiness.”(3)
How Nature Improves Our Quality Of Life
According to the World Health Organization, over half the world’s population live in urban areas(4). This poses a unique new series of health concerns:
“Rapid, unplanned and unsustainable patterns of urban development are making developing cities focal points for many emerging environment and health hazards,” the WHO reports.
According to a report from Stanford University, regular exposure to nature can help mitigate some of the health and cognitive problems caused by the stress of living in a city:
“…urban environments heavily tax the top-down voluntary attentional control that is required to filter relevant from irrelevant stimuli adequately,” the researchers write(5). “Demands from the urban environment deplete this cognitive resource, and can thereby worsen performance on tasks… natural environments invoke a different sort of attention from people – a sense of ‘fascination’, ‘being away’, ‘extent’, and ‘compatibility’ – that may result in the replenishment of directed attention because they are less heavily taxed in these alternative environments.”
Making Nature Part Of The Urban Landscape
Given all of this information, it’s no surprise that rooftop gardens seem to be the next big trend in urban planning and development.
Recently, France issued new legislation stating that the rooftops of new buildings built in commercial zones must be at least partially covered either by plants or by solar panels(6).
Meanwhile, Facebook’s California offices installed a 9-acre rooftop park for their employees – a project that they hope will not only boost worker satisfaction and morale, but productivity as well(7).
Rooftop gardens can also be used as a sustainable source of food. In Montreal, the company Lufa Farms – a rooftop farming operation that provides local, organic produce to individual consumers through a subscription service – states that their vision is “a city of rooftop farms”(8).
It’s a vision many environmentalists and social scientists alike can share.
How to Build an Edible Green Roof
- Sugar Helps Suppress Stress Levels But Comes With Serious Health Risks, Scientists Say
It’s common knowledge for many of us – especially those of us who actively fight to curb our sweet tooth …
- Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease Is Sweeping Across Parts Of The US: Experts Beg Parents To Know These Signs
If you have kids, you probably know about Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). While it sounds like a peculiar …
- She Won The Nobel Prize in Medicine By Combining Ancient Knowledge With Modern Science
You may have heard about Tu Youyou’s recent win of the Nobel Prix in physiology and medicine for the discovery …
- Researchers Confirm What Pretty Much Everyone Suspected…Watching Cat Videos Is Good For You
Admit it – you like to watch cat videos on the internet. It’s okay, everyone does. The skyrocketing popularity of …
- Hidden Toxins In Makeup And Consumer Products Pose Multiple Health Risks For Women
As more and more people become aware of possible toxins from pesticides and hormones in their food, “clean” eating – …
- Researchers Discover That Diet Rich In Fruits And Veggies Gives You Stronger, Healthier Bones
According to the University of Michigan and the Alberta Bone and Joint Institute, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables …
- Key Witness in Medical Malpractice Cases Blocked By CDC From Testifying
In recent years, controversy has arisen over children’s vaccinations against what used to be common diseases. Vaccination against measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) …
- According To This Professor, Probiotics Could Eventually Be Used For Treating Seasonal Allergies
Allergy season is upon us again, sending many of us rushing to the drugstore for anti-histamines to deal with the …
- Having Trouble Sleeping? It’s Not Your Fault! Scientists Find “Wide Awake” Gene That Sabotages Sleep
Are you struggling to have a good night’s sleep? Are you the kind of person that spends their nights lying …
- 911 Operator Calmly Coaches This Mom On How To Perform CPR To Save Her 3-Month-Old Baby
After feeding her 3-month-old baby, the boy suddenly began to cough and vomit. Next thing you know, Zane completely stops breathing. …
- Just One Night of Sleep Loss Is Enough To Alter The Genes In Your Cells
Many of us think very little of messing with our sleep schedules. Students pull all-nighters when studying for (or celebrating …
- Follow This Simple Eating Plan To Help Cut Heart Disease Risk By Nearly 50 Percent
The Mediterranean diet – a diet based on the diets eaten in countries bordering the Mediterranean sea – may be …
- Eating Coconut Oil Daily Can Help Reduce Waist Size And Lower Cholesterol Levels, Study Finds
Coconut oil is well-known for its health benefits – hailed as a superfood, many people swear by its ability to reduce …
- Researchers Expose How Fluoride In Water Supply Is Making Us Sick and Depressed
New research from the Centre for Health Services Studies at the University of Kent is leading to calls for more …
- These Plantable Coffee Cups Are Embedded With Seeds That Turn Into New Plants When Discarded
Every year, Americans throw away approximately 25,000,000,000 styrofoam cups(1). Even worse, these cups are non-biodegradable, meaning that up to 500 …