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 "green spaces", 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, of possibilities elsewhere.

The Davis Centre (DC), being one of the modern examples of building design on campus, is the focus of our study. We will concentrate on air quality as there is most always room for improvement in this area. Our objectives are to evaluate 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. Our goal is to confidently make suggestions as to what type of landscaping would be appropriate and desirable, and plans for implementation. We plan for our study to be a model for this implementation in the future.


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 in the following ways; stabilize a suitable temperature for the biotic and abiotic elements, maintain relative humidity and carbon dioxide levels up to Canadian standards and maintain ventilation suitable for occupancy level. We believe these improvements will be a result of natural plant processes in DC.

*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 presently have 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.

Sustainability - 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. Also, the use of plants in the built environment to improve carbon dioxide levels and to remove pollutants will in fact contribute to the health of occupants. This improvement in health will result in higher productivity while generally promoting a healthy attitude, an inherent consequence of improving physical conditions. This improvement in overall physical and mental health will result in an increased ability of humans to function, in their given environment.

The various benefits and technicalities of the gardens, along with their relation to sustainability, will be further developed within the body of our project.


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. We define the structural element as the physical "envelope" of the Davis Centre; All of the component parts and construction materials are part of this structural element. The functional element is defined as consisting of any subsystem, sub-set, environmental state or activity that exists within the DC. We feel that when the components that make up the structural element combine with the various sub-systems and states (i.e.. the functional aspects of DC) that a complete DC system is formed. The following is a description of each element in our interpretation of the Davis Centre system:


Looking at the Davis Centre from the outside one can observe the physical envelope of the building. The grey aluminum exterior and large pipes that curve over the roof give the DC a very modern look. The numerous tall glass windows though allow one a glimpse inside to the carpeted and darkly painted interior. Once inside, the yellow railings, dim lighting and red trim all enhance the modern look of the DC. If you stand in the main foyer, with it's vaulted ceiling, and look up you will see the exposed concrete stairs with their rubber covering. There is no real ceiling, as the ventilation and piping is clearly visible overhead. If one were to roam around they might come across the two large lecture halls, the cafeteria or the library that were all built into the Davis Centre

Less obvious to the eye are the materials used for the "skeleton" and foundation of the building; Brick, concrete, wood, drywall, insulation, screws, nuts and 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 influenced the building design and construction. All of these aspects can be considered part of the physical envelope of the Davis Centre.


Within this element we have included two sub-systems, one sub-set and two states of the Davis Centre; The energy and electrical sub-system, and the water and plumbing sub-system comprise the sub-systems of the DC. The administrative personnel and users of the DC can be considered a subset. The indoor micro-climate and atmosphere, and interior decoration /design of the DC can be considered physical states. All of these elements interact and contribute to making the Davis Centre a functional building. Labour, in the form of maintenance and upkeep, is also a functional component.


When the physical envelope is combined with the functional elements 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 both elements combine 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. Indoor micro-climate and atmosphere can be considered analogous to air quality. However, we do make a slight distinction; Micro-climate is something we can physically measure, and then draw some conclusions about air quality. In addition though, we consider people's perceptions a key factor in defining air quality in the DC. This may result in our physical measurements telling us air quality is up to standards, but DC users telling us that there is an air quality problem . It is the possibility of this situation that makes it important to recognize both "sides" to air quality. We are particularly interested in air quality conditions both including and in the absence of vegetation.

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 and the interior decoration / design component (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.


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-people subset, the state of the indoor micro-climate and atmosphere, and the interior decoration / design state. An evaluation of the system is necessary for determining the ability of the system to support interior landscaping and in order to reveal the benefits it will create. For each of the three 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-People Subset

The criteria for evaluation for this sub-system surround Davis Centre users' (students, faculty, administration...) and the perceived need and desire 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 operations. personnel (Dave Churchill, Dennis Huber, Rudy Molinary) on Wednesday March 15, 1995 (2:30pm), Davis Centre office personnel and other frequent users. The general survey will be aimed at users of the Davis Centre (students, library users, cafeteria eaters, professors...), and hence will take place in the Davis Centre.

In order to determine the population of the Davis Centre we found out that there are 46 different classes held in DC this semester. Each Lecture Hall in DC has the potential to hold 250 people. We found out that approximately 6000 people use the DC Library on any given day. The number of offices and administrative personnel, and the number of cafeteria users has not yet been determined. However, some quick math puts our population at about 17 500. We will have to take into account the fact that many of the library and cafeteria users are probably the same people as those who have class in DC. Our final population will be based on estimate, but it is looking as though the population of the DC will not be much smaller than the population of the entire University of Waterloo. From this population number we will use the "Enjoying Research Guide" to determine the ideal sample size to survey. However, time constraints in all likelihood will probably limit the number of people we can survey to about 30 to 50 people.

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 and Atmosphere State

An ideal study would examine a very comprehensive list of air quality indicators. In addition to what we plan to measure there are a number of pollutants and chemicals that should be measured in an air quality study. Formaldehyde, ozone, radon gas, and carbon monoxide are some others that would be measured under ideal conditions. However, time constraints and limited equipment have limited what we will measure.

The criteria that will have to be measured here include the following: air temperature; humidity; Carbon Dioxide levels; ventilation; and light levels (sunlight and artificial). We feel that these criteria will allow us to make a general assessment of the quality of air in the DC. They were chose because they are relatively simple measurements to take and the necessary equipment was readily available. This (in addition to the survey) will allow us to determine the current air quality. It will also allow us to determine which plants would be best suited for the DC indoor environment. We will be measuring the same factors in a building that already has indoor plants and gardens. This will allow us to make air quality comparisons. We also plan to back up our observations with already documented findings.

To measure the Davis Centre air quality factors listed above we will use; the Kanomax Climomaster (for air temperature, moisture and air speed), the Gastech carbon dioxide meter and the Hagner lux meter (for artificial and natural light). This equipment will be signed out from Larry Lamb and/or Occupational Health.

Air quality is a function of the interactions of the various building sub-systems and states. An overall standard of air quality and indoor atmosphere can be determined through the comparative use of Canadian Standard Association, guidelines. This will help us make our decision regarding the desirability and necessity of indoor plants and gardens.

3) The Interior Decoration / Design State

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 absence as well as what is present; This will allow us to suggest improvements. We are looking at this component because we are trying to determine whether indoor gardens would improve the decor of the Davis Centre and buildings in general. To determine the type of decor present, a simple walking tour will be sufficient.

Summary of Criteria for Evaluation

Evaluating the criteria of the three components which comprise our defined system boundaries will allow us to draw conclusions on the suitability of the Davis Centre for indoor landscaping, as well it will 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 improving indoor air quality and micro-climatic conditions.


To date we collected a number of articles; "Some house - plants devour air pollutants". (K-W Record, Saturday, February 4, 1995) This is an article on the ability of plants to remove atmospheric pollutants indoors. We also have a report published by NASA on the use of plants to remove air pollutants, "NASA Study: interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement".

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 Biology 220) which contains information on plant development and environmental response. "The Indoor Garden", includes information on landscape design.

The project we have critiqued 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.

Patti Cook has also been very helpful thus far, and we will utilize her services in the future, should we have relevant questions.


We will be meeting with Plant Operations personnel listed above (see criteria section) on March 15, 1995. They will be able to give us valuable information regarding the feasibility -- physically and financially of indoor landscaping. Larry Lamb will 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 , will be able to assist us with choosing appropriate plants in our landscape plans. 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 analyze our system, to gather our required data, and to draw reasonable conclusions.


1.0 Introduction: Sustainability at UW

2.0 Project Definition

  • 2.1 Rationale for Indoor Landscaping
  • 2.2 Air Quality and the Working Environment 3.0 The Davis Centre as a System

  • 3.1 Structural/Physical Element of the Davis Centre
  • 3.2 Functional Element of the Davis Centre
  • 3.3 The Complete Davis Centre System 4.0 General Methodology of Study Design

  • 4.1 Defining the Criteria and Methods of Evaluation 5.0 Results

    6.0 Analysis of Results and Implications

  • 6.1 Capacity of the Davis Centre to Support Interior Landscaping
  • 6.2 Potential Impacts of Vegetation
  • 6.3 Financial Implications
  • 6.4 Implications for the Environmental Science and Engineering Building 7.0 Recommendations

    8.0 Conclusions: Sustainability and the Future of UW