Your lawyers since 1722

State of health

By 2050, it is expected that 68% of the developed world will be urbanised1. With advancing urbanisation, the human species is becoming increasingly distanced from nature. The incorporation of nature into the indoor environment is referred to as biophilic design, connecting people to nature both inside and outside buildings. Biophilic design is understood to reduce stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought, improve our well-being and even progress healing2.

Due to humans’ affinity to the natural world, interaction with nature in and around buildings enhances a sense of wellbeing by addressing our innate psychological need to be part of natural world. Biophilic design contributes to a wider nature-based sustainability in which we aspire for buildings and cities to progress in development in symbiosis with vegetation.

There have been numerous studies within recent decades on the benefits to the built environment through improving a connection to nature:

  • Commercial buildings / Offices: productivity increases of 8%, wellbeing improvements up by 13%, with reports of heightened creativity, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism

  • Hospitality:  rooms with views of biophilic elements command 23% higher value

  • Education: reported improvements in learning by up to 25%, showing improved test results, concentration levels and reduced impacts of ADHD

  • Healthcare: patient recovery times decreased by 8.5%, with 22% reduction in pain medication

  • Retail: reports of customers willing to pay 8-12% higher prices for goods and services

  • Homes: 7-8 % less crime attributed to areas with access to nature, can command an increase of 4-5% in property price, and create comfortable, restorative environments for the occupants3


Buildings to ensure occupant access to nature within the indoor environment, following principles of biophilic design to maximise mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits for occupant.

Strategies across the lifecycle


Biophilic design guidance includes:

  • The incorporation of nature through environmental elements, lighting, and space layout – examples include terraces, indoor water features, green walls, and gardens

  • The incorporation of nature’s patterns and natural materials in design

  • Opportunities for human interaction with nature

  • Consideration of sound isolation of buildings to protect surrounding nature and outdoor environment


Biophilic design patterns are flexible and replicable strategies for enhancing the user experience that can be implemented under a range of circumstances, and also require consideration of locally appropriate design4. Benchmarks to standardise good practice in achieving appropriate levels of biophilia are therefore infeasible to dictate on a global scale. Design teams are encouraged to research and replicate local good practice, in and outdoors.


State of health 

There is significant evidence demonstrating the positive impacts of green space and biodiversity on both human health and wellbeing and urban space5. The percentage of the global population living in urban areas is set to increase to 68% by 20506 and biodiversity contributes to the liveability of our urban spaces. The human benefits of urban green space include reduced morbidity and improved physical health outcomes, improved mental well-being, increased social cohesion and the provision of ecosystem services that can offer human health co-benefits, such as air cooling and air quality7.

Access to good quality outdoor green space is associated with positive health outcomes8, including:

  • improvements in mental health and wellbeing, such as depression, stress, dementia

  • increased longevity in older people

  • lower body mass index (BMI) scores, overweight and obesity levels and higher levels of physical activity better self-rated health

Access to green space is often impacted by socio-economic factors. People living in the most deprived areas are less likely to live near green spaces and will therefore have fewer opportunities to experience the health benefits of green space compared with people living in less deprived areas9. An inequitable distribution of parks and other green spaces could exacerbate health inequalities if people on lower incomes, who are already at greater risk of preventable diseases, have poorer access10.

Green infrastructure integrates the natural world into the physical fabric of buildings, and is frequently implemented with green walls, green roofs, and vertical gardens, particularly for high rise buildings. Green infrastructure offers benefits including; the removal of air pollutants, reduction of urban air temperatures and passive thermal benefits to buildings, improvement of local biodiversity through the provision of habitat for flora and fauna, rainwater attenuation, noise reduction and improved sense of wellbeing through biophilic connection for occupants11. Additionally, blue infrastructure (water-focused) incorporated within urban design can further contribute to the expansion of biodiversity, as well as creating desirable habitats to encourage activity behaviours. Both green and blue infrastructure incorporated in the urban environment can support the mitigation of species loss.


Access to quality green space on building footprint, in addition to local community. Maximise biodiversity on site and encourage implementation of nature-based solutions at community level.

Strategies across the lifecycle


  • Implementation of green infrastructure in building design, such as: shared landscaped courtyards and/or grounds, particularly in areas of social and economic deprivation; green roofs which can significantly reduce the cooling load of a building, resulting in reduced cooling requirements and therefore reduced energy consumption and associated output of atmospheric carbon dioxide12

  • Incorporate endemic ecological planting. Ensure incorporation of native plant species to support local flora and fauna

  • Incorporate ponds, waterways, and wetlands. Ponds and wetlands offer habitats to encourage biodiversity, plus function as Sustainable Drainage Systems and pollutant control resources13

  • Rehabilitation of degraded land. Repair land degradation and protect from multiple forces of risk, including extreme weather conditions (particularly drought), and human activities that pollute or degrade the quality of soils and land utility

  • Dedicated fauna underpasses at crossings to assist in avoiding collisions between vehicles and animals

  • Consider and mitigate risk of introducing pathogens and pests into the environment when introducing flora and fauna


  • Biodiversity Assessment: the impact on biodiversity of a project can be measured assessing the value of habitats including the quality and quantity of biodiversity gained and lost, comparing the ecological value pre, and post construction on a site by site basis.

1 United Nations. 2018. ‘News – 68% of The World Population Projected to Live In Urban Areas by 2050’:…

2 Terrapin Bright Green. ‘14 Patterns of Biophilic Design’: patterns/

3 Oliver Heath Design.…

4 Terrapin Bright Green. ‘14 Patterns of Biophilic Design’: patterns/

5 Green Building Council of Australia. 2018. ‘Building With Nature’:…

6 United Nations. 2018. ‘News – 68% of The World Population Projected to Live In Urban Areas by 2050’:…

7 Kendal, D., Lee, K. et al. 2016. ‘Benefits of Urban Green Space in the Australian Context’

8 Public Health England. 2014. ‘Local Action on Health Inequalities: Improving Access to Green Spaces’:… g8_Green_spaces_health_inequalities.pdf

9 Public Health England. 2014. ‘Local Action on Health Inequalities: Improving Access to Green Spaces’:… g8_Green_spaces_health_inequalities.pdf

10 Astell-Burt, T. Feng, X. et al. 2014. ‘Do Low-Income Neighbourhoods Have The Least Green Space? A CrossSectional Study of Australia’s Most Populous Cities’ BMC Public Health:

11 Biotecture:

12 Benefits of Green Roofs:…

13 Jeremy Biggs. et al. ‘Maximising the Ecological Benefits of Sustainable Drainage Systems:…

The resource lists for each sub-principle are a non-exhaustive set of references provided from the WorldGBC network, peer review panel and industry through the Framework consultation period. A regular update of resource lists will be undertaken by WorldGBC to ensure updated information is available.

WorldGBC supports all certifications and is proud to unite a network that runs over 40 rating tools, plus support the uptake of all tools across the industry. Rating scheme inclusion within the Framework is based on submission from global GBC network and consultation responses, with aim of amalgamating a host of resources for a global audience to offer further detail for users beyond the high-level outline of each principle.

Regarding specific certifications, eg. BEAM or Green Star, there are often a number of versions or tools available for different building types (eg. Design, As-Built, Interiors, Communities). To maintain brevity of Framework document, one building level tool (eg. Design or New Construction) and one larger scale tool (eg. community level) is included within the Resource List of each sub-principle. Users with alternative building projects in mind are encouraged to acquire the appropriate version of the tool for most applicable guidance.