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Posted:  06 Jul 2011 20:47  
Has there been any research to measure the Amount of carbon dioxide that a typical indoor plant removs from the air so that this could be claimed as carbon credits
Posted:  07 Jul 2011 15:54  
Ahh, yes.  There is currently a study out there called "Project Carbon" that purports to show a "benefit" derived from removal of CO2 by interior plants.  It's sort of a "duh" conclusion, since every 4th grader already knew that without spending any grant money doing research on the topic.  ALL plants "remove" CO2 from the air in the process of photosynthesis, which enables them to manufacture sugars and other carbohydrates for their metabolic needs.  They also excrete CO2, generally at night, in the process of respiration (i.e., "burning" the sugars they made during the daytime), in somewhat lesser amounts than what they take in.  They also generate CO2 each time some plant tissue dies and decomposes, and that CO2 goes into the atmosphere.

The question is, what net benefit is derived by the surrounding environment from this process?  Answer: because of the normal process of diffusion and infiltration of outside air into indoor spaces, not much.  The "benefit" is neutralized by the introduction of outside air into the "treated" space.  In fact, this process of bringing in outside, fresh air into buildings, known as "ventilation", has been found to be vastly more useful and cost-effective as an air-cleaning tool than is the use of live plants indoors.

Posted:  08 Jul 2011 03:13  
isn't there research showing that outside air is more contaminated than inside air? that would mean that binging outside air into sealed buildings via "ventilation" would really not have much "benefit"
Posted:  08 Jul 2011 15:10  
It would of course depend on the specific building and its location, but because of the concentration of off-gassing and gas-generating equipment (copiers, printers, fax machines, etc.) and furnishings (carpeting, wall coverings, paints, upholstery, cushions, etc.) in the typical office building, concentrations of the offending gases tend to be locally high within buildings unless they are ventilated properly.  In the post-Arab-oil-crisis building era of the 70s and 80s, buildings were being designed and built to minimize outside air infiltration and ventilation in order to conserve energy.  That led to the common phenomenon of "sick building syndrome", in which VOCs and other aerial contaminants built up in poorly ventilated structures, causing an increase in reported respiratory and other ailments by office workers.

You might want to check out this article for a review of the plants-as-air-cleaners question.  It contains a good analysis of the Wolverton research and a correction of his recommended planting densities for optimal air remediation:

http://www.practicalasthma.net/pages/topics/a ...

In the article, the author reviews EPA research findings that show that, instead of the two or three plants per 100 square foot room recommended by Wolverton, it would actually require about 680 similar-sized plants per house to achieve the test-chamber results claimed by Wolverton.

So you can see that there is quite a bit of room for argument about the science here.  The EPA has come down on the side of the argument that reasons that the simplest, most controllable and economical way to remove airborne contaminants from buildings is simple ventilation.


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