skip to content

MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Vegetation in buildings: greenery to address psychological and social health in sustainable building design

Human health and well-being is a primary concern of sustainable building design. This dissertation explores the comprehensiveness of scope of the current approach. The main research object was to determine how attention to health can be improved in building design. Green building rating schemes were chosen as the specific focus of analysis as representative of sustainable building design. Lack of attention to social and psychological health needs was identified as a gap in the current health concerns of sustainable building design. This identification is followed by discussion of why this oversight is of concern. The guiding objective of this research became to determine how concern for psychological and social
health could be incorporated into sustainable building design. Vegetation able to act as such a tool was set as the hypothesis, tested against the sub questions of:
• Can vegetation improve psychological health?
• Can vegetation improve social health?
• Is vegetation compatible with sustainable building design?
The hypothesis was confirmed positively against these criteria through literature review and case study analysis.
Once vegetation was determine able to address psychological and social wellbeing in sustainable building design, the three sub questions were brought together in a framework to analyse various vegetation case studies. This was to explore how the theoretical well-being benefits of vegetation act in cases of real examples of implementation to identify limitations and develop design recommendations. It was found that vegetation can, but does not automatically
result in the theoretical well-being benefits. Rather, specific design conditions must be maintained in order for the potential human health benefits to be realised, leaving much room for future research.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.