Dr Kate Lee

I am examining how planted ‘green’ roofs can boost wellbeing and improve workplace productivity.

Viewing nature can improve concentration and mood, and may even boost productivity.  As city populations and density increase, green roofs are likely to become important sources of green views for city employees spending long hours at work and experiencing high levels of stress.

My research explores how green roof views can refresh concentration, often drained through overwork, and boost mood and performance.

My research highlights important considerations for green roof construction and design: incorporating plants which people like looking at means that these green roofs are more likely to boost concentration, mood, and performance.

Quantifying these benefits means that we can better understand their influence on employee wellbeing and productivity. This has implications for healthy and supportive workplace design, and for promoting more sustainable and liveable cities.


+61 3 9035 6827


Research areas

Environmental psychology, industrial and organisational psychology, cognitive psychology, urban horticulture, urban design.


My research has been featured in ForbesThe Washington PostThe ConversationAustralian Financial Review, Harvard Business Review and The Fifth Estate.

Relevant publications

Williams, N. S. G.Rayner, J. P.Lee, K. E., Fletcher, T. D., Chen, D.Szota, C., & Farrell, C. (2016). Developing Australian green roofs: overview of a 5-year research program. Acta Hortic. 1108, 345-352.

Lee, K.E.Williams, K.J.H., Sargent, L.D., Williams, N.S.W., & Johnson, K.A. (2015). 40-second green roof views sustain attention: The role of micro-breaks in attention restorationJournal of Environmental Psychology, 42, 182–189.

Lee, K.E., Williams, K.J.H., Sargent, L.D., Farrell, C., & Williams, N.S.W. (2014). Living roof preference is influenced by plant characteristics and diversityLandscape and Urban Planning, 122, 152-159.

Conference presentations

The role of individual differences in performance outcomes of green micro-breaks“. 24th International Association People-Environment Studies Conference (2016).

Green micro-breaks boost performance: The role of tension and task proficiency“. 29thConference of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (2015).

“Restorative views of city green roofs boost attention, and influence recovery, mood and performance”.  International Congress of Applied Psychology (2014).

Designing Highly Preferred Living Roofs: The Importance of Vegetation Characteristics and Diversity“. American Psychological Association Convention (2013).

Social Dimensions of Living Roofs“. Green Roofs Australasia Conference (2012).


Best Paper Award, Organisational Behaviour Stream: “Green micro-breaks boost performance: The role of tension and task proficiency“. 29th Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (2015).

Best conference presentation: “Restorative views of city green roofs boost attention, and influence recovery, mood and performance“.  International Congress of Applied Psychology, PhD student, Division 4- environmental psychology (2014).

Cassandra McLean Memorial Studentship.  Awarded by the Cybec Foundation (2010-13).


Social Networks and Urban Green Spaces”. Research funding awarded by the Melbourne Networked Society Institute (2016-2017).

“City green roof views boost attention”. Seed funding awarded by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (2014-2015).

Frank Keenan Trust.  Awarded by the University of Melbourne (2012-2014).

Melbourne Abroad Travelling Scholarship.  Awarded by the University of Melbourne (2013).

Does viewing living roofs improve performance?” Research funding awarded by National Garden Industry Australia (2012-2013).