Biophilia and Improving PHEAT Using Graphic Wall Coverings

So….what exactly is “Biophilia”…..and what is PHEAT?……and what do these have to do with wall coverings?

Biophilia is our natural inborn love for nature which all living creatures possess. Biophilia is the reason we select the office with windows, or the beach scene screen saver, or put that realistic Ficus tree in our office……it is the reason our pets paw at the door and stare out of windows. This love of nature or “biophilia”, seems natural and intuitive and for good reason…it is natural and a part of how we function as humans. Everywhere we look, inside or out, there are scenes and objects to look at. However, fact is we are genetically wired to prefer natural views.

And PHEAT? PHEAT is my acronym for Productivity, Health, Engagement, and Turnover; all factors numerous research projects and studies have shown can dramatically improve through applications of biophilia in the built environment.

Abundant research also reveals applications of biophilia in a built environment can:

  • Improve test scores in learning/education settings
  • Increase sales in dollars/square foot in retail settings
  • Shorten recovery times and lengths of hospital stays in health care settings
  • Improve PHEAT in workplace settings

Speaking of workplace settings…..where do businesses spend the greatest amount of dollars in a corporate office building? Water? Rent? Utilities for HVAC? No, no, and NO. By far, the greatest expenditure for a business in a given building, is the employees. Today, productivity costs are 112 times greater than energy costs in the workplace. Cost/SF of corporate office space is overwhelmingly devoted to salary. According to the U.S. DOL, 90.3% of costs/SF are invested in salary. Only 8.9% goes to rent/mortgage. 0.8% represents energy costs (BOMA, 2010, US DOL, 2010).

These statistics make it clear….the smartest economic investment in a workplace, is an investment in employees, their productivity, and their overall satisfaction.

Great….but we can only have so many offices with windows in a given building…….and what do Graphic Wall Coverings have to do with all this biophilia stuff? So we know natural views (windows) are a great example of a biophilic application. But those views are “real”…right? Remember the screen saver and artificial Ficus tree above. What is genetic within us that triggers all these positive outcomes from biophilic applications? Research has revealed that “fractals” are the primary trigger in visual biophilia. In simple terms, fractals are the random shapes we view in nature. And all this time you thought you wanted that window just to see trees…without realizing the reason those trees are so comforting to view compared to the objects in your office!

A fractal encodes geometrical structure on numerous linked levels: There is no preferred scale. Fern leaves vs. cauliflowers for example. Countless scales are present in a fractal, with complex structure at any magnification. Subconsciously we recognize and respond positively to natural fractal structures. This links us cognitively to structures following the same geometrical principles, such as landscapes, trees, bushes, and animals. On the other hand, we react poorly to structures that are not fractal: smooth or shiny objects or surroundings create stress. This discomfort occurs because their minimalism contradicts the fractal structures and patterns we are used to experiencing in natural environments.

So the good news is that we can utilize graphic wall coverings with natural scenes, to reap the benefits of biophilia! Whether in a workplace setting, healthcare setting, educational setting, retail setting or even home setting…..we can actually design, produce and install wall graphics that can produce a return on investment, in addition to creating a unique, inviting, beautiful space within the built environment!

Our founder/owner led a biophilia application research project through Lipscomb University’s Institute for Sustainable Practice, working with interns from Vanderbilt University. Graphitti Sign & Graphic Studio would love to discuss how we can apply biophilia through graphic wall coverings designed specifically for your space and your desires! Contact us today at

To read how we can deliver your biophilic application graphic wall covering in a healthful, sustainable manner, please see: Sustainability: