Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. Humidity levels are closely linked to comfort levels of humans - if employees are comfortable, they’re more productive.
Too often offices and corporate buildings have poorly installed ventilation systems which contribute to numerous problems, including sub-optimal humidity levels. Humidity should be kept between 40% - 60%.
Temperature and germs are also linked to humidity, which means you could be wasting money on excessive use of airconditioners and heaters.
Naturally, humidifying indoor plants are able to balance humidity levels in a room through a process known as transpiration that allows them to release moisture that the plant absorbed from the roots.
Looking at a workspace with a high humidity levels
If the office feels like a Bikram yoga studio the humidity levels have exceeded 60% and a dehumidifier rather than a peace lily is required. There is only so much nature can do!
Offices in Durban would be prone to high humidity levels. Durban has subtropical climate meaning it is fairly warm, warmer air can hold more moisture; hence the high humidity levels in the city.
High humidity levels can cause rising damp, mould, wood rot, dust mites and breeding ground for bacteria; which in turn has health affects for employees.
Buildings with high levels of water vapour feel muggy and hot because the apparent room temperature is higher because the sweat is unable to evaporate from our bodies so we cannot thermo-regulate our temperature. Let's be honest nobody wants to see armpit sweat.
Indoor office plants and clammy offices
Interior plantscapers can move the indoor plants further apart and reduce the amount of watering. Most indoor plants are adapted to rainforest climates with higher humidity levels and low light levels as they grow below the forest canopy, making an office with a slightly higher moisture in air a plantscapers dream.
In nature everything is about balance, and indoor plants will help create that balance whilst purifying the air and absorbing excessive noise. Interior plants like orchids, air plants, boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), bamboo fern (Dypsis lutescens) and peace lily (Spathiphyllum) thrive in offices with slightly higher humidity levels aroung 60%.
Offices with a low humidity levels and dry air
Nose bleeds, higher incidents of the flu, static, coughing, itchy eyes and sinus issues are all the result of low humidity levels in the workspace. These symptoms are synonymous with the Johannesburg winter. Get some humidifying indoor plants!
Dry air with a humidity below 40% will also result in high heating bills because the apparent room temperature drops, meaning employees feel colder and turn up the heating; which dries the air even more.
Innovative interior plantscaping and humidifying indoor plants
We chatted to Life Indoors about how to increase a room’s humidity. To get the atmospheric moisture in balance, group lots of indoor plants closely together, the plants through the process of transpiration will create a pocket of humid air, whilst creating an attractive rainforest look.
Not many indoor plants are adapted to rooms with a low humidity, generally the thinner the leaf, the greater its need for humidity. Thick, leathery, or waxy leafed office plants like the rubber plant (Ficus elastica) and fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) are more resilient to low levels of humidity. Once the air has some moisture in it, you will be able to add other plants. Offices with low humidity level really need indoor plants, even consider a green wall to help increase the number of plants you can fit in the room.