OUR STUDY DESIGN
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 17, 1995
DEFINING OUR PROJECT
Our group intends to investigate the feasibility and desirability of undertaking interior landscaping within buildings on campus. Interior landscaping refers to the development of indoor "greenspaces", such as hanging plants, potted plants and mini-gardens. We will examine these possibilities within one building on campus -- the Davis Centre -- as a representative example.
The Davis Centre (DC) was created on a low budget and as a result it has become an example of a poorly designed and built facility. For example, the indoor air quality in the Davis Centre has been criticized for it's poor quality; This is the aspect we have chosen to focus on.
Our goal is to evaluate (measure) the present air quality conditions within DC, and to determine whether indoor landscaping could improve the indoor atmosphere. We are also interested in discovering whether this is something that students, faculty, and administration would like to see implemented.
RATIONALE FOR OUR STUDY
There is a strong rationale for undertaking such a project on campus. We feel that indoor landscaping could benefit the campus in the following ways:
*Air Quality - We are predicting that indoor landscaping, hence more green plants, will improve air quality (i.e.. temperature, humidity, Carbon Dioxide levels, ventilation...) in DC as a result of natural plant processes.
*Aesthetics - We expect that people would enjoy the presence of natural surroundings within a built environment, specifically that of the Davis Centre. We are also suggesting that indoor landscaping will create a more relaxed, peaceful, and calming environment within DC.
*Education - These gardens could be used as an educational tool for students within the university and citizens from the local community. Furthermore, indoor landscaping in the Davis Centre could serve as a model for other buildings that do not have any indoor plants.
*Other - Indoor landscaping is a good example of innovative use of often wasted space and provides a place to utilize any compost generated on campus.
Our rationale for this study is closely tied to promoting sustainability on campus. Indoor gardens would contribute to sustainability in several ways: by creating more green spaces; by assisting the cycling of water and atmospheric gases; by fostering a more relaxed environment on campus and by creating an arena for student and community involvement. University students as well as other members of the public could be involved with maintaining the gardens while learning about them.
The various benefits and technicalities of the gardens, along with their relation to sustainability, will be further developed within the body of our project.
AN OVERVIEW OF OUR SYSTEM
To determine the feasibility of this project it will be necessary to examine the building as a system. Our perspective of the Davis Centre recognizes both a "structural" and "functional" element to the overall DC system (see flow diagram handed in Fri. Feb 17, 1995). There are certain components that make up the "structural" element, that when combined with the various sub-systems of a building form a "functional" building. The following is a description of our interpretation of the Davis Centre system:
The components that make up the structural element of DC are things like construction materials for the building and foundation -- brick, concrete, wood, drywall, insulation, screws, nuts & bolts. The labour used to put these materials together also falls under the structural element. The natural elements such as rain, sun, and wind can also be considered here as they influence the building design and construction.
Within this element we have included the various sub-systems of the Davis Centre; The energy and electrical sub-system, the water and plumbing sub-system, the administrative personnel sub-system and the indoor micro-climate / atmosphere sub-system all interact to create a unique environment (in it's broadest sense) in DC. In addition, we have included interior decoration / design as a component that contributes to making the Davis Centre a functional building. Labour, in the form of maintenance and upkeep, is also a functional component.
THE COMPLETE DAVIS CENTRE SYSTEM:
When the structural and functional elements are combined an overall system is created and we feel that both of these elements are crucial to the Davis Centre. To define and comprehensively evaluate the DC system both elements must be taken into consideration. When all these inputs are combined they allow the Davis Centre to operate on a daily basis; As a result, a number of outputs are created. These consist of water, sewage, heat and waste. Furthermore, a distinct air quality is formed by the interaction of the different system components. We are particularly interested in air quality conditions both with and without indoor plants.
For our purposes it is not feasible to conduct a comprehensive evaluation / study of the Davis Centre. We have therefore narrowed our boundaries to encompass a smaller portion of the DC system. Specifically we have defined them as consisting of the administrative personnel sub-system, the indoor micro-climate / atmosphere sub-system, the interior decoration / design component and the air quality output (see diagram).
The Davis Centre system can also be put in the context of a hierarchy of systems. We have already outlined the various sub-systems above. In addition, the entire DC system can be considered a part of a larger system -- the entire University of Waterloo campus system that includes all other buildings, structures, natural elements, and people. In turn, the campus as a whole can be placed in a greater education system, which is one factor of the entire K-W mega-system.
CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION
Now that we have defined our boundaries, we must consider how to evaluate / study this portion of the Davis Centre system. We will have to evaluate the administrative personnel sub-system, the indoor micro-climate / atmosphere sub-system, the interior decoration / design component and the air quality output. An evaluation of the system is necessary for determining the ability of the system to support interior landscaping in order to see what benefits (if any) it may create. For each of the four components within our defined boundaries we will need to define criteria that can be used to evaluate that component. The criteria and methods to be used for each component are as follows:
1) The Administrative Personnel sub-system
The criteria for evaluation for this sub-system surround Davis Centre users' (students, faculty, administration...) desires for implementing indoor gardens. People's attitudes towards indoor plants, desires for implementation, perceptions of aesthetics and air quality are all criteria that we will attempt to measure. Our method for measuring these criteria will be to conduct key informant interviews and a general survey. We will be interviewing plant ops. personnel (Dave Churchill, Dennis Huber, Rudy Molinary ??), people in the offices upstairs in the Davis Centre, people in Computer Sciences that frequently use DC and others (??). The general survey will be aimed at users of the Davis Centre (students, library users, cafeteria eaters, professors...). It may also be conducted at other spots on campus (e.g.. Campus Centre) to ensure that we have a balanced sample of UW "people". As far as our sample size (N) goes we are not sure what the best or ideal size would be to minimize our margin of error and that would maximize our level of Confidence, but realistically we will probably attempt to survey 30 to 60 people (we are open to discussion on this issue!!).
It may be appropriate here to give you an idea of some of the kinds of questions we will be asking. These questions are pending the Office of Human Research's approval. For example (the questions that ask you to "rate" are based on a scale of 1 to 6 -- see copy of survey handed in with diagram):
* How would you rate the indoor atmosphere of buildings on campus?
In terms of: a) physical attractiveness
b) air quality i.e.. humidity, temp., dryness ...
c) air freshness i.e.. ventilation
* Do you feel that plants and/or indoor landscaping would improve the indoor atmosphere and aesthetics of buildings on campus?
* Would you like to see more plants and indoor landscaping inside the Davis Centre?
This outlines the criteria and methods we will use to evaluate / study this component of the Davis Centre system.
2) The Indoor micro-climate / Atmosphere sub-system
The criteria that will have to be measured here include the following: air temperature; humidity; amount of Carbon Dioxide; ventilation; and light levels (sunlight and artificial). This will allow us to determine the current air quality. It will also allow us to determine which plants would be best suited for DC indoor environment. We will (if possible) be attempting to measure the same parameters in a building that already has indoor plants and gardens (any suggestions??); This would allow us to make a comparison. If this cannot be done, we will have to base our predictions of the air quality improvements created by plants, on literature sources.
To measure the Davis Centre air quality parameters listed above we will use equipment like a Carbon Dioxide metre and a lux metre. This equipment will most likely be signed out from the Larry Lab and/or Occupational Health.
3) The Interior Decoration / Design component
The criteria to evaluate this component are as follows: the layout of the interior, any paintings or art, bulletin boards and any other decor. We will also be looking for what is not there as well as what is there; This will allow us to suggest improvements. We are looking at this component because we are tying to determine whether indoor gardens would improve the decor of the Davis Centre and buildings in general. To determine (measure) what decor is present, a simple walking tour (observation) will be sufficient.
4) The Air Quality component (output)
Criteria for evaluating this component are based on the indoor micro-climate criteria. Air quality is a function of the interactions of the various building sub-systems and components. An overall standard of air quality and indoor atmosphere can be determined from our examination of the results of the micro-climate measurements and the survey. This will help us make our decision regarding the desirability and necessity of indoor plants and gardens.
Summary of criteria for evaluation
Evaluating the criteria of the four components which comprise our defined system boundaries will allow us to draw conclusions on the suitability of the Davis Centre for indoor landscaping. It will also give us some insight into whether or not this is something people see as desirable. Furthermore, our observations will allow us to make a statement regarding the effects plants might have on indoor air quality and micro-climatic conditions.
SOURCES TO DATE
To date we collected a couple of articles; an article on the ability of plants to remove atmospheric pollutants indoors (from K-W Record), and an report published by NASA on the use of plants to remove air pollutants.
We have also located a spot on the WWW from where we can obtain information on foliage and flowering plants, with respect to required growing conditions and maintenance.
Our group has gained access to a number of books. 'Biology of Plants' (course text for Bio 220) contains information on plant development and environmental response. 'The Indoor Garden' (from Dana Porter) discusses design and types. We also have some others, but we cannot recall the specific names (i.e.. we don't have them with us).
The project we are critiquing from last year -- "Building Performance Analysis of Modern Languages" -- has also served as a useful reference. The researchers who completed this project undertook similar air quality measurements, which has allowed us to gain some insight into appropriate methods of measurement and analysis. It will probably serve useful in the days to come as well!
Patti Cook has also been very helpful thus far, and will be there for any future questions we might have.
FUTURE SOURCES AND CONTACTS
We will be contacting the plant ops. personnel listed above (see criteria section). They will probably be able to give us valuable information regarding the feasibility -- physically and financially. Larry Lamb will hopefully be assisting us with learning how to use the equipment we need in order to undertake our micro-climate measurements. Dr. Semple, a botany professor at UW, may be able to assist us with choosing appropriate plants. We will also continue to search for relevant articles, books and reports.
We feel that our study design -- as laid-out above, and in the diagram and survey handed in -- will provide us with sufficient information to analyse our system, to gather our required data, and to draw reasonable conclusions. We recognize that there may be room for improvements to our study methods, after we receive objective comments and criticisms.