Orange is the New Green: Biophilic Design for Prisons | U.S. Green Building Council
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Orange is the New Green: Biophilic Design for Prisons

GBCI: 0920013139

There are 2.25 million men, women, and children behind bars in the United States. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world with 693 inmates per 100,000 residents. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about a quarter of federal and state prison inmates and 35% of jail inmates who spent 30 or more days in solitary confinement had been, or were later diagnosed with severe psychological distress. Can biophilic design help our prisons and inmates? Join us as we explore this topic in-depth in this 2 part series.
Eligible for 1 CE HOUR.
  • 1 CE

Published on: May 22, 2017



This course is part of our biophilia series.

The term “biophilia” is gaining a lot of attention since it’s been part of the WELL Building Standard following the footsteps of the Living Building Challenge. So, what is it? The innate tendency in human beings to focus on life and lifelike processes is biophilia. Can our understanding of the science of biophilic design help create healthier buildings? Is biophilic design a truly sustainable solution? Can biophilic design revitalize our prison facilities? Join us as GBRI Senior Research Associate Lilli Fischer explores this topic in-depth.

In part 1 of this course, we will apply the concepts of biophilic design, detailed in Biophilic Design: A Truly Sustainable Solution, to prisons. We will explore the psychological impacts of conventional prison design and social structure on inmates and staff. We will discuss the opposing theories of Static and Dynamic Security and dive into the history of incarceration theory in the US. Finally, we’ll talk about current trends in US and European prisons and ask if there is a push for change.

In part two of this course, we will explore, the scientific evidence supporting biophilic design in prisons, examine the results of several biophilic rehabilitation programs in the US and see examples two Nordic prisons that have implemented biophilic design strategies. Finally, we will discuss why biophilic design in prisons is especially important right now.

Interested in more course related to biophilia, here are some courses hosted on this platform:

Biophilic Design - A truly sustainable solution:

Part 1
Part 2

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  1. Explore the impact of access to nature and natural elements on inmates.
  2. Discuss the opposing theories of static security and dynamic security.
  3. Reveal design features common in prisons today that could lead to negative long-term impacts on crime.
  4. Examine the history of inmate rehabilitation in the US.
  5. Investigate the existing scientific evidence supporting the use of biophilic design in prisons.
  6. See powerful examples of biophilic design in Nordic prisons.
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Created by

Green Building Research Institute (GBRI)
New York, NY
United States

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Included sessions


Orange is the New Green: Biophilic Design for Prisons
Biophilic Design for Prisons Part 1


Orange is the New Green: Biophilic Design for Prisons
Biophilic Design for Prisons Part 2