A study in Singapore revealed that vertical greenery on buildings may lessen the impact of stress on people.
While there are several studies that point to the benefits of vertical gardens on the environment, this particular study focused on the contribution of vertical greenery to one’s mental health.
Psychologists used virtual reality (VR) to explore the effects of vertical greenery as a stress buffer in urban areas.
A total of 111 participants were asked to walk on a virtual street using VR headsets for five minutes. They were assigned to walk in two different streets: one with greenery on buildings and another street with green painted structures instead of plants.
The noise of heavy traffic was also played to match the real environment as they walk on the virtual street. Their heart rate variability was monitored through a portable electrocardiogram (ECG) device.
Results found that those people who walked through the virtual street with green structures developed an increase in stress, while those who looked over the street with plants on buildings experienced no changes in stress.
Participants also answered a questionnaire concerning the emotions and the anxiety they felt during their VR experience. Some felt less positive as they walked through establishments with green walls, while the other group did not tell of any feeling regarding the activity.
The researchers said that the findings may have indications of urban dwellers’ well-being that can be used as a guide in greening the cities.
Green spaces help keep an area cool, thereby reducing the use of artificial cooling systems. Vertical gardens can reduce carbon emissions and minimize the effects of urban heat island (UHI), which refers to the city experiencing warmer temperatures as a result of limited vegetation and other contributing factors.
Lin Qiu, the principal investigator of the study, said that there will be more people expected to live in urban areas in the future, hence, city planners and architects must be aware of these things to create a healthy environment. He added that the study can be a guide on how vertical greenery can be a practical way to incorporate nature in urban areas to foster mental health and increase the quality of life.