Grow your own fresh air indoors

Energy & Sustainability Technology

It’s no surprise that indoor plants help to reduce carbon dioxide and increase oxygen in the buildings they inhabit, but this TED presentation discusses a particular indoor planting strategy that is being used by a business park in New Delhi specifically to improve air quality above industry standards, while also sealing all external fresh air and exhaust.

We have tried and tested these plants for 15 years at Paharpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park (PBCâ„¢ – STIP) in New Delhi, India. It is a 20 year old, 50,000 ft2 building, with over 1,200 plants for 300 building occupants.

PBCâ„¢ – STIP is rated the healthiest building in Delhi by the Government of India.* Their study found that there is a 42% probability of increasing blood oxygen by 1% if one is inside the building for 10 hours.

Also, compared to other buildings in Delhi, the incidence of eye irritation reduced by 52%, lower respiratory symptoms by 34%, headaches by 24%, upper respiratory symptoms by 20%, lung impairment by 10-12% and Asthma by 9%. As a result of fewer sick days — employee productivity also increased.

They suggest that a typical living environment needs only three plants for this purpose. The Areca Palm is used for the general purpose of increasing O2 during the day in most living areas. Mother-in-law’s Tongue serves a similar purpose but for the bedroom, as it converts CO2 to O2 in the evening. Finally, the Money Plant can be used to scrub Formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds from the air.

The recommended number of plants per person in a living space varies from 4-8 depending on the size of the plant. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s definitely more than I have in my own home (and I have a lot of plants), and grossly different from most offices I’ve worked in. Imagine everyone in your office bringing in 4 shoulder high palms on Monday!

Do any readers have a living or work space that resembles this? Please share your story in the comments.

How to Grow Your Own Fresh Air – TED 2009

4 thoughts on “Grow your own fresh air indoors

  1. Scott Saunders says:

    I currently have no plants in my home, but I’ve been thinking about getting some. NASA did some research into air cleaning plants, which is summarized here with pictures:
    And you can find out which plants are toxic to cats, dogs, etc here:

    The Areca Palm is not toxic to cats, while the Mother-in-law’s Tongue is. A search for Money Plant hasn’t turned up anything yet.

  2. Scott says:

    Turns out that Epipremnum aureum (Money Plant) is also toxic to cats and dogs. There are still options for owners of misbehaving cats, like me. Mauna Loa, Spider Plants, and Bamboo Palm are all rated highly by the NASA study and according to the ASPCA are not toxic to cats. The Areca Palm in this study is also okayed by the ASPCA list. (Owners of dogs that eat plants might want to double check – I’ve only got cats to worry about.)

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).