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News

Posted by on in News

Atria is honored to have tied for first place in the I-Plants Magazine 2013 Design Award - Holiday Decor category. It was a team effort from the design concept, to the production, to the installation, and we have the best team!

Here is the award winning entry:

Having just completed a large renovation of the campus, our client was looking for a fresh, new design for the space that would compliment their décor and create a festive holiday atmosphere in an elegant way. We approached the design and color scheme in such a way that the architecture and the sleek, modern furnishings would simply be enhanced but not over powered by the decorations. The space is very bright with an abundance of natural light. This allowed us to go with a rich deep burgundy in our palette which has the potential to be lost among the foliage. We added the lime green and platinum for a nice pop of modern color, and the gold to add a touch of traditional color.

The color palette and combination of ornaments and ribbon used is very unique. We mixed pattern, shapes and textures together that really created a custom look for our client.

To see more of Holiday Designs by Atria's portfolio, click here.

by Heather Burns

CTGreenScene.com

In honor of Earth Day, I spoke with one of Connecticut's most inspirational sustainable business owners I know.  Bruce Crowle, Co-Owner with his wife Joanne, of Atria Inc. shares some insight on the good, the difficult, and the rewarding elements of operating a sustainable business.

How do you personally define sustainability?
The word Sustainable is an adjective meaning ‘to maintain at a certain rate or level’.  Today’s green initiatives are focusing on maintaining our planets environment at its present level for all future generations.  We can only hope it’s not too late to actually reverse some of the consequences we have helped to create.  To be sustainable we first have to accept that every positive action we take will help improve the environment, or at the very least, not hurt it.   

What was the impetus/reason for pursuing more sustainable business practices?
I think it’s important that you personally believe ‘baby steps’ are required and cumulatively those steps will have a positive impact.  Our staff has embraced Atria’s sustainable position with open arms and with conviction.  They’ve helped create our policy and practices and are always looking for any way to help reduce, reuse and recycle. I’d say several of those choices played an important role in developing and putting into practice Atria’s sustainable policy. 

I did experience some early inspiration back in 1973 while undertaking my senior thesis project.  That involved studying oxygen levels of a cluster of small ponds in North Carolina over a 6 month period of time.  The thesis concluded that when fertilizer was applied to improve surrounding grass or crops it had a measurable impact down stream (increased algae and corresponding decrease of oxygen).  From this I learned that the balance within all ecosystems is fragile and that man has the greatest influence on the environment.  That’s when I first really started to care how I impacted my immediate environment.

Most of Atria’s veteran staff had horticultural background before they joined us.  I believe horticulturist’s have a predisposition for sustainable practices.  It’s not hard to convince us that we all need to do our part to help improve the environment.

I’d say that Atria has practiced and preached sustainability because we are in the business of providing plants for interior environments and we’ve known that their presence helps reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC’s).  These gases are introduced into the space by the furniture, paint, carpeting and cleaning solutions and are the cause of poor indoor air quality. 

What value has sustainable principles and practices brought your company?
The most value we get out of our company concern for the environment is our group pride in taking a leadership position.  Atria was the very first company in the country to earn Platinum status in the Green Earth – Green Plants® Certification Program,  the accreditation program for interior plantscape businesses.  Our sustainable practices and efforts helped develop sound standards for environmentally-safe practices within our industry. 

What were some of the challenges or barriers you face?
Initially, there were financial challenges.  In order to implement some of the changes we knew we had to make an investment.  When we first moved into our present facility the warehouse was lit with old and inefficient Mercury Halide lamps.  At that time the state of Connecticut and CL&P had a great energy program where they offered to help offset the cost of installing high efficiency lighting.  Atria took advantage of this offer and retrofitted every light in our 13,000 sq/ft facility.  That investment paid for itself in less than 4 years and we are still reaping a return on it

Another challenge was time management.  Many of the policies we put in place, such as composting all of our old plant material, takes longer than simply tossing them into the trash.  Each plant is taken out of their plastic grow pot, brought to the compost pile on our property, and the pots put in the recycle bin.  We also have a comprehensive recycling program that includes recycling and re-using packaging and composting all organic materials related to our products, as well as employee led efforts to collect and recycle office materials.     

Our industry has always believed and communicated the fact that our products, which include interior tropical plants, live flowers, green walls and green roofs, all benefit the environment in a very positive way.  In the last twenty plus years universities and college researchers have documented the many critical benefits of including well designed and professionally maintained interior plants in the office, shopping malls and homes.  Those benefits include the absorption of noise pollution, increased HVAC efficiency (cost reduction), improving healthy humidity levels and most importantly reducing employee stress at work.  

Where do you see your industry in five years?
Looking ahead, I believe that the inclusion of plants, green walls and roofs will be the norm for new construction projects and LEED certification credits will include plants.  Cities will use live roofs to cut down on pollution, green walls and large atriums will be more prevalent in hospitals, universities and in corporate settings.  This has been the case for many years in places like South America, Europe and Asia, and in some cities here in the U.S. as well.

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For many offices, a plant portrait is a much more practical and attainable approach to a green wall.  They can be configured on the wall in many different ways and are also available in assorted sizes, so do not count out that smaller wall in your reception area!

The photo below is of a recent plant portrait installation by Atria, Inc. in Hartford, CT.

 

 

Transform any vertical surface into a lush and strikingly beautiful garden and enjoy all of the benefits of plants - without compromising valuable floor space.

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Plants are Critical to any Interior Design - Why It Matters

Our human nature wants to connect with the outdoors.  Research indicates that interior landscaping is not only desirable but a "must do green initiative" to keep clients, tenants and customers happy and healthy.  If you're not convinced of the power of green, please examine this small sample of the overwhelming data on the subject.

 

Affect Productivity and Worker Satisfaction - When a company provides and maintains plants for their employees, a message of good will is sent.  Workers feel management cares because plants create a tended space giving people the sense of caring and well-being.  In fact, in one study, workers have demonstrated 12% more productivity with plants present.

Reduce Absenteeism - A few selected quality specimen plants can help moderate the noise level and reduce stress, keeping employees happier and at work.

Make Buildings Look More Welcoming - Subtle settings created by plants alleviate the harshness of the building environment.  They create a warm and inviting refuge.

 

Improve the Indoor Environment - Plants take on many indoor environmental health problems by reducing levels of carbon dioxide, increasing relative humidity, reducing airborne dust levels and reducing off gassing levels of certain common interior pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene and nitrogen dioxide.

Increase Tenant Occupancy and Retention - By maintaining healthy plants in attractively designed containers and displays, the character and appearance of the building improves.  People want to stay, their perception is positive.

Make a Design Statement - Interior landscaping is emerging as a "fashion oriented" business.  It can be the finishing touches to the overall design or stand as a focal point to catch the eye.

Increase Retail Spending - Extend your outside environment inside for the retail customer.  Provide a more interesting, cheerful, less stressful experience for your shopper, diner or overnight guest.

Direct Pedestrian Traffic - Plants can gently guide crowds to special attractions, direct optimal traffic flow or be the specific landmark for check-in desks, escalators and waiting areas.

Soften Less Attractive Building Features - Utilizing the versatility in size and shape, plants hide the less attractive features of the structural environment with elegant, functional solutions to service areas, kitchen entries, connecting walkways etc.

Reflect the Holidays and Changing Seasons - It's hard to beat the visual beauty and grace of plants.  They express our cultural beliefs and help celebrate our seasonal holidays.

Conclusions

It should not be forgotten that the individual's sense of well-being is clearly promoted by including plants in their environment, and that plants help improve quality of life overall. We therefore draw the conclusion that plants have a positive effect on individual's health and sense of well-being.  We hope our promotions of studies and research can prompt designers, developers and builders of our future building to simply:

Do the right thing and include green plants in their green designs!

 

Written by: McRae Anderson, ASLA, CLP

All photos © Copyright 2013 Atria, Inc.

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By Bruce Crowle

Interior plants have been around for centuries, so the interiorscape industry is still in its infancy (about 50 years old).  So the question that begs to be asked is why do we need plants indoors?  The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems, including plants.

In the mid-eighties I was invited to Washington and had the distinct pleasure of meeting Dr. Bill Wolverton.  He had just concluded his studies for NASA that proved tropical plants could be helpful during prolonged space exploration.  His research concluded that plants and their roots and the surrounding soil (a plant system) absorbed volatile organic compound's (VOC's), such as formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide and others, and returned oxygen to the environment.  These results are now pretty much generally accepted by the corporate community, but it took years for its acceptance.

In the last twenty plus years universities and college researchers have documented the many other critical benefits of including well designed and professionally maintained interior plants in the office, shopping malls and homes.  Those benefits include the absorption of noise pollution, increased HVAC efficiency (cost reduction), improving healthy humidity levels and most importantly reducing employee stress at work.

 

The most critical study compared the employee productivity in an office devoid of plants and the same office with tropical plants added.  The results indicated that worker productivity improved by 12%!

Atria's clients appreciate and understand the return on their interiorscape investment.  When a company provides and maintains plants for their employees, a message of goodwill is sent.  Workers feel management is concerned because plants create a tended space, giving people a sense of caring and well-being.  In return management improves the office environment, reduces absenteeism, and provides a healthy return on investment.

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The Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games were held June 8th, 9th and 10th in the Greater New Haven Area.  This year, Atria was proud to be one of several companies to donate 200, 2"-3" plants for Pot-A-Plant, an extracurricular activity program for the Special Olympics Summer Games. Its intent is to provide interaction between the athletes and nature by the simple act of transplanting a small plant into a larger pot.  The finished product is then given to the athlete to take home and nurture.

We received these heart warming words from Linda Bray, of Plants a la carte, who was the volunteer organizer for the event:

"We had a wonderful time this weekend, potting plants with the athletes and coaches at the Special Olympics. Thanks to donated plants, potting mix and pots and a borrowed waist-high potting mixer, volunteers has abundant materials to provide over 1000 plants to athletes, coaches and volunteers. It was a very touching experience for all"


Please take a moment and check out the Pot-A-Plant website to read more about the program and their efforts.  Their objective is a beautiful one, using plants to help, heal, encourage & connect people to nature and the world around them.

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This is a recent seasonal installation downtown Hartford, CT.  The client was looking for a burst of color to celebrate the arrival of Spring and get their tenants and visitors into the spirit of the season.  We added daffodils, begonias, forsythia and tulips to their already lovely plantings.  What a wonderful job our design & installation team did!

Let us bring Spring to your building or office.  Contact us today!

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Atria is very excited to introduce a new and unique way to bring nature to your place of work.  'Plant Portraits' truly are living works of art.  Transform any vertical surface into a lush and strikingly beautiful garden and enjoy all of the benefits of plants - without compromising valuable floor space.  Contact us today for more information, or to set up a design consultation.

 

 

 

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~ Atria - Bringing Nature to Work throughout Connecticut & Westchester County ~