Green Wall in NSW Government Department Office
< Back to Blog & News

Plants in Government Offices

June 10th, 2020

More than $1.2 million spent on indoor plants for new NSW Government office

By Josh Bavas


An office break area with a wall of plants
The company supplies green decor for offices. (Supplied: Tropical Plant Rentals). 
A NSW Government department has defended spending more than $1.2 million on indoor plants for its new corporate offices in Parramatta.

The Department of Planning recently approved a contract worth $1,246,000 for the indoor plants in the 4 Parramatta Square building, not including external landscaping costs.

The three-year contract with supplier Tropical Plant Rentals includes the “supply, installation, watering, maintenance and replacement” of indoor vegetation.

A department spokeswoman said the indoor plants would complement the new building’s green-star rating across 30 floors.

“Environmental sustainability of the built environment is one of the key focuses of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the offices at 4 Parramatta Square will have a 5-star Green-Star Rating in accordance with the Green Building Council of Australia,” she said,

A website for the local supplier offers indoor plant options including green walls, cabinet walls and vertical pot plants, although the exact details for the offices has not been released.

Indoor plants will feature across the new office's 30 floors.
Indoor plants will feature across the new office’s 30 floors. (Supplied: Tropical Plant Rentals).

Stewart Little from the Public Service Association — the union currently fighting a bid to freeze public sector wages — said the contract “beggars belief”.

“It’s astonishing,” he said.

“In the wake of the worst bushfire crisis we’ve ever seen, but also going into the COVID-19 crisis where really everyone’s had to work under very, very strained circumstances, and you’ve got a situation now where the Government’s seeking to impose a wage freeze.

“To have one department sign up to well over $1 million on indoor plants — it’s just extraordinary.

“They often tend to just look at one section of the budget and not look at where that’s money could be spent elsewhere — this is a classic example of that.

“You’d have to question that when you have an expenditure like this, what else is out there that we’re missing?”

The new offices at Parramatta Square.
The new offices at Parramatta Square. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)

Tonia Gray from Western Sydney University said incorporating nature into workplaces — otherwise known as biophilic design — could have benefits.

“Biophilic design means letting nature in and that in itself has a myriad of benefits,” Professor Gray said.

“Not only was productivity better but mood states and the fact that absenteeism was declined and just general comradery seemed to have an enormous spike as a result of bringing nature in.

A woman smilesTonia Gray says incorporating nature into workplaces can have benefits.

“Even water features or the sound of water is cathartic and soothing in itself.

“A babbling brook is a lot better sound than the ping-pong of your emails coming in, isn’t it?”

The Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, declined to comment.