Wood and human stress in the built indoor environment: a review

Abstract

Individuals spend most of their time indoors, and therefore indoor environments are important aspects of one’s life. Creating healthful indoor environments should be a priority for building designers, and evidence-based design decisions should be used to ensure the built environment provides healthful benefits to occupants. This review was conducted to examine the body of research studying wood use and human stress to determine the potential fit for wood in the restorative environmental design paradigm. Previous studies on psychophysiological responses to wood are reviewed, as are current methods for assessing stress in experimental settings. To date, studies examining the psychophysiological effects of wood use in interiors have revealed reduced autonomic stress responses when compared to rooms without and with less wood. Therefore, by increasing wood use in design paradigms seeking to bring the positive health benefits of nature into the built environment, like restorative environmental design, building designers may improve the well-being of building occupants. This review reveals further studies are needed to better understand the psychophysiological responses to wood, and suggests specific aspects of wood such as colour, quantity, and grain pattern should be examined and how stress and stress recovery should be analysed.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the Slovenian Research Agency for financial support within the frame of the project Z4-5520 and the Italy-Slovenia Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007–2013 for financial support within the project EnergyViLLab.

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Correspondence to Michael D. Burnard.

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Burnard, M.D., Kutnar, A. Wood and human stress in the built indoor environment: a review. Wood Sci Technol 49, 969–986 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00226-015-0747-3

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Keywords

  • Indoor Environment
  • Medium Density Fibreboard
  • Human Stress
  • Cross Laminate Timber
  • Psychophysiological Response