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Professor gets green office makeover

by Denise Fitzpatrick, communications and marketing last modified Aug 20, 2013 08:06 AM

Some people feel as though they’re on a never-ending treadmill when they’re toiling away in their offices.

Professor gets green office makeover

David Simpson

David Simpson really is—and said he’s healthier because of it.

Simpson, a UofL urban and public affairs professor who chairs the university’s Sustainability Council, is the first faculty member on campus to occupy an office redecorated entirely with sustainability in mind.

Everything in his office in 100 Urban Studies Institute has been retooled to be environmentally friendly. He’s even got a “walking workstation”—a computer-treadmill combination that lets him check and respond to email while pacing at a speed of up to 2 mph.

A soothing color scheme of warm cream and spring green beckons visitors into Simpson’s new abode. The walls are coated with paint that resists dirt and emits no off-gasses.

Green plants spill cheerily out of the dozen or so chocolate-brown fabric planters made from recycled plastic bottles that adorn his walls. Matching solar shades hang at his four windows, replacing his ugly 20-year-old drapes.

Besides looking good, the solar shades reduce his energy use by lowering the room’s heat load.

His hypoallergenic carpet, made of at least 35 percent recycled materials, sports a muted, green-and-gray geometric pattern evoking a leisurely stroll through an ancient Tuscan courtyard.

“I really like it in here now,” Simpson said. “The plants make an especially big difference. They make it feel more natural and they improve air quality, which is helpful in an office environment with little to no fresh air.”

Interior architecture students created concept drawings for the room redesign under the guidance of fine arts professor Moon-he Baik. Money from urban and public affairs’ physical plant and research infrastructure funds paid for the $10,000 renovation.

Simpson, who said he initiated the green office makeover “to create a space that encourages health and wellness for office workers,” plans to study its costs and benefits. He has teamed up with UofL’s Get Healthy Now program and Barbara Stetson, a UofL health behavior change psychologist, to explore research possibilities.

“We’re considering going after a National Institutes of Health grant that would allow us to put 50 walking workstations around campus,” he said.

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