This approach acknowledges both seen and unseen relationships that exist with Life all around us. This means going beyond sustainability to the pursuit of regenerative influences on human health, the environment and local living economies. In this pursuit we can discover that nature can instruct and inspire us. Today’s most advanced solutions emulate nature. Nature inspired design philosophies include Biophilic Design, Deep Ecology, and Biomimicry.
Biophilic design is deep ecology approach to integrating natural elements into the built environment for positive mental and physical impacts on its inhabitants.
- the impact that the built environment has on the natural environment
- how natural design can affect human inspiration and well being
- how we can develop a sustainable, synergistic relationship between human habitat and the natural environment in which it resides.
Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chairman, U.S. Green Building Council” says,
“When nature inspires our architecture-not just how it looks but how buildings and communities actually function, we will have made great strides as a society. Biophilic Design provides us with tremendous insight into the ‘why,’ then builds us a road map for what is sure to be the next great design journey of our times.”
Deep Ecology is a philosophy based on human harmony with nature that reflects:
- deep questioning about root causes for conflict with the environment
- long term solutions vs short term
- whole systems and values that preserve ecology and culture
- localized ecological relevance and wisdom
- lessons from indigenous peoples practices
- respect for all beings
- respect for diversity
Living Building principles help guide Deep Ecology in action.
Biomimicry is broad term relating to a deep ecology approach to sustainable innovation that could be called a philosophy or a design theory. A Biomimicry design approach mimicks nature in a holistic, thoughtful way in order to meet human needs. Thus, by design, it’s technologies are safe for the environment. It can be applied to almost any technology or problem solving.
Biomimicry utilizes,”inspirations from biology for radical increases in resource efficiency” Architect Michael Pawlyn explains (13 min video). The Biomimicry Institute explains biomimicry as a way to:
- think in systems
- design in context
- identify patterns
- re-imagine the world around us
- design with purpose and design for Life
Pioneers in Biomimicry
Biomimicry 3.8 is an orgzation formed by the best known biomimicry pioneer, Janine Benuys. Janine co-founded the Biomimicry Institute to advance these ideas through education. Her work encourages the question, “How do we make the act of asking nature’s advice, a normal part of inventing?”
Biomimicry and Architecture
Architect Michael Pawlyn, author of, ‘Biomimicry in Architecture’ (published by Royal Institute of British Architects), is also widely sharing his enthusiasm for biomimicry specifically in the realm of architecture. He has worked on several revolutionary projects listed on his web site. Click on each picture for more info.
Practical Applications of Biomimicry
In natural systems waste from one organism becomes a nutrient for another. Unlike invasive species, a naturalized species gives something back to it’s local ecosystem. In closed loop symbiotic relationships found in nature there is no such thing as waste.
Progressive human-designed technologies can mimic nature by creating value out of waste and reducing or eliminating outside inputs. We can design closed loop systems instead of linear ones. In this way we can transform perceived problems into opportunities. Such complex natural systems tend to increase in diversity over time. Designing with awareness of, and respect for, the capacity of the ecosystems we are a part of, can we create resilience.
Contrary to what some believe, to live in tune with nature does not mean we must “shiver in the woods” (Douglas Farr architect). Advances in biomimicry science have produced, viable, practical ways to enjoy sustainable comfort. Such solutions offer greater security by working with natural forces instead of against them. The result is low maintenance systems that can endure time and change. Here are two examples.
Biological Blackwater Treatment
A commercialized solution for medium scale installations
Biologist John Todd created the Eco Machine. It is a waste water treatment process using plants like bullrushes to treat blackwater. In 36 hours it’s ready for reuse. The company, Living Machines has been selling similar systems in large scale public installations. On a smaller scale, even a simple greywater capture system can be routed to irrigate gardens.
Cardboard to Caviar
A quirky, brilliant, closed loop example of biomimicry in business:
The Green Business Network in Wakefield, UK created a cottage industry sized closed loop project to turn restaurant waste into an opportunity.
- They sell a service to pick up waste cardboard from restaurants.
- They shred it and sell it to horse farms for bedding.
- They collect the soiled bedding from the farms.
- They feed this to their worm compost to make more worms.
- They feed the worms to Siberian Sturgeon and collect the caviar to sell back to the restaurants.
Cradle to Cradle
Cradle to Cradle is a beautiful example of an aspirational, research based certification program to encourage better manufacturing. We have listed this under philosophy since it is core to our mission, and under Standards as their criteria are so aligned with our design and building goals.
The Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard guides designers and manufacturers through a continual improvement process that looks at a product through five quality categories — material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.
Product assessments are performed by a qualified independent organization trained by the Institute. Manufacturers must regularly demonstrate good faith efforts to improve their products for the recertification process.