'BMW in Munich go green'

Now staff like their product will be known for their performance?

BMW pride themselves on being cutting-edge in design and engineering.¹

One of their 'cutting-edge' technological developments is cars that use 'BMW CleanEnergy'².

Now they can add a new 'green 'health and safety policy for their workforce to their innovative developments.

Following on-going health complaints from staff at their headquarters in Munich, BMW have sponsored a study report into the health benefits of interior plandscaping in offices. The ailments that caused most problems were respiratory disorders, dry eyes, dry skin and other general symptoms mainly by their computer operators. Strangely these symptoms disappeared once the employees had left the workplace.

Their Health and Safety Section decided to carry out an investigation using international scientific research findings³ and experience and then, if possible, reverse this problem by means of introducing interior planting and making a 'green' office environment.

But BMW needed convincing first! They were a little sceptical even though international research has shown that indoor planting reduces the symptoms recorded by BMW staff and as a knock-on effect, reduces absenteeism too. To satisfy themselves, BMW decided to carry out a meticulous internal investigation to gain some specific proof for themselves.

Extensive data was gathered, comparing the planted 'green' and the unplanted 'non-green' work areas. The results were studied by both technical and management departments of other professional groups as well as internally within BMW - the results caused some surprises.

The initial scepticism disappeared when the well-being of the work force clearly improved in the planted areas. It was also felt that the data secured was demonstrably watertight.

Beate Klug, the Health and Safety Officer for BMW commented, "Once the planting was introduced, 93% of the employees working in these areas felt healthier and more motivated to work. They praised the reduction in noise levels and favoured working in the 'green' workplace.

" Statistics showed that most absences (30%) had been due to respiratory illness but once the plants were introduced these figures fell. The study by BMW demonstrated that the improved air quality in the planted offices generally reduced illness.

They also found that the planted offices were more comfortable due to better humidity levels and consequently less airborne waste particles too. The current feeling at BMW is that there is no doubt in anyone's mind about the positive effects of plants being used in the workplace. Collecting data continues at BMW in the operation known as the 'Excellent Plant Climate' (Prima Klima Pflantzen), organising the workplace environment for further improvement by using plants but still remaining economically viable.

"The human factor is the No. 1 criterion in determining a company's relative success. Accordingly, we see our associates not as a cost factor, but instead as an essential performance factor. This is especially true because any human resources policy that is not oriented towards the associate will always lead to negative cost effects in the long run, thus proving uneconomical."² states their website.

The example from BMW shows clearly that a 'green' policy does not mean just an increase cost factor but with clever investment it can also result in cost reduction.

Additional information: ¹e-Business IQ - press release from BMW

² quotes from www.bmwgroup.com

"The BMW Group has … developed a technology that represents the future of motor fuel. BMW CleanEnergy uses the most primary of all natural cycles: the water cycle. This cycle is the central concept of BMW CleanEnergy. Liquid hydrogen is generated from energy and water. In the engines of BMW hydrogen vehicles, the hydrogen combusts with oxygen again, and returns to water. BMW CleanEnergy simply follows the principles of nature."

³for more information on the health benefits of plants, see in particular:

Prof Tove Fjeld's papers:-

The influence of indoor plants on the state of health of office employees-

Do plants in offices promote health?

Dr Leona Rogler's report: -

Are plants in offices beneficial to health?

John Berg's paper: -

The effect of healthy workplaces on the well-being and productivity of office workers

International Symposium report (particularly Fjeld and Berg):-

International symposium confirms plants improve health, air quality and quality of lives

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