News Brief

Biophilic Design’s Financial Case Is Strong As Ever

The pandemic popularized biophilic design, says a seminal resource, in part by emphasizing the importance of green outdoor spaces.

A graph lists impacts that can be measured to demonstrate the financial return of biophilic design.

The financial return of biophilia can be measured in many ways; a stronger case can be made by combining multiple impacts.

Image: Terrapin Bright Green LLC
A beloved resource by Terrapin Bright Green was recently updated with pandemic-era lessons that make an even stronger financial case for biophilic design. The Economics of Biophilia is now in its second edition and is free to download. (Disclosure: Paula Melton, BuildingGreen’s editorial director, helped edit the report.)

The report focuses on six project types—offices, schools, retail, hospitality, healthcare, and communities—and compiles the latest research on the financial returns of connecting people with nature. New to this edition are updated scientific studies, more case studies, and a primer on biophilia for those new to the concept.

The authors highlight how the challenges of the latest decade have popularized biophilic design. “With the 21st Century surge in mental health awareness, brain drain … the rise of remote working, and a pandemic-era appreciation for having easy access to nature,” people are looking to biophilia “as a means to heal,” say the authors. In particular, there has been a “paradigm shift in acknowledging the prospective value of access to nature and outdoor space,” they say.

The report makes the case for biophilic design in a few ways that seem to run counter to sustainability—for example, citing studies correlating biophilic elements with increased consumer spending. However, it compensates with a chapter on biophilia at the community scale that emphasizes equity and improved outcomes for everyone. Notable research findings include:

  • A community of 100,000 people with a high-ranking vegetation index is estimated to have 4,900 fewer cases of chronic disease than a low-ranking community, saving $13,250,000 in healthcare costs.
  • Every 10% increase in tree canopy density correlates with a 13% reduction in crime rates, avoiding $43 million in direct costs to victims. Source studies controlled for income levels, educational attainment, and racial and ethnic composition.
  • Street trees add $1.35 billion to a city’s real estate value, which equates to an increase of $15.3 million in property tax revenue each year (findings specific to Portland, Oregon).

The report offers “DIY tips” to help practitioners reap these benefits for maximum biophilic impact. These include recommendations to position shrubs and small trees in locations that do not block the line of sight, a choice designed to preserve a feeling of personal safety. Another example: combine visual connections with nature with long-distance views through public and interstitial spaces.

More on biophilia

How to Access the Full Power of Biophilia

COTE Top Ten for 2023 Provide Open Space Teeming with Life


Originally published October 24, 2023 Reviewed November 6, 2023

Pearson, C. (2023, November 6). Biophilic Design’s Financial Case Is Strong As Ever. Retrieved from

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