Growing Green Horizons

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No longer a fledgling cause for the interiorscaping industry, Plants At Work is spreading its wings and making an impact locally and globally promoting the benefits of indoor plants.

Plants At Work started out as a campaign launched by interiorscapers within Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA), which more recently became part of PLANET — the Professional Landcare Network. ALCA provided seed money and overhead, and most of the funds were raised through pledges made by the interiorscaping industry, which includes many foliage growers. Last year, Plants At Work spun out on its own to become an independent nonprofit organization and just seated its first board of directors.

Its original mission was to grow the size and profitability of the interior plantscape industry, but has expanded to include plants in the home. By retaining MJ Gilhooley of Gilhooley Consulting, Inc. for public relations, Plants At Work has generated a lot of mainstream press and awareness about the benefits of indoor plants, and more importantly, targeted those who would make decisions to add interiorscaping to office buildings, hotels, shopping malls and healthcare facilities. Building owners, managers and property management firms are the ones who write the checks for large commercial contracts.

After learning that 70 percent of these decisions are influenced by architects, Plants At Work got involved with and is providing certification for the American Institute of Architects (AIA). More than 400 professionals have been trained on the benefits of indoor greenspace. Plants At Work is also providing continuing education units (CEUs) through the Building Owners & Managers Institute and U.S. Green Building Council. How can a building be green if it doesn’t have plants? There is tremendous potential with the green building movement and certification.

Plants At Work provides training through its interiorscaping professionals by “training the trainers.” Those who become Plants At Work CEO providers become the trusted green resources in their markets. Once they are trained, they get the tools they need to deliver presentations, as well as leads for local opportunities.

On the consumer end, which is more accessible to everyone, Plants At Work has partnered with the ECGC alliance of leading independent garden centers to use “Plants At Work and At Home” tags, which are part of a point-of-purchase program informing consumers about the benefits of plants in their lives.

This program was the brainchild of foliage grower and Plants At Work board member Denise Godfrey of Olive Hill Greenhouses in California. For more than 20 years, Olive Hill has been using its own labels to promote the clean air benefits of green plants.

“We need to grow our industry,” Godfrey says. “There is so much opportunity. The household penetration of indoor house plants is around 20 to 22 percent with foliage a dismal 12 percent. Imagine how much opportunity may be available if we were to double that? The public has not yet begun to realize how important plants are to their wellbeing — health, creativity and productivity. If we work together, we have an opportunity to redefine the public’s perception of plants. How awesome is that?”

We agree. This month’s Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is the best opportunity to learn more about Plants At Work and get involved. For more information, visit www.plantsatwork.org.

Delilah Onofrey directs Flower Power Marketing for the Suntory Collection. She can be reached at donofrey@gmail.com
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