Turning to nature to solve green building challenges

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Animals, plants, and microbes are the world’s greatest engineers and their approach to problem solving is being harnessed in a new marriage of nature and human innovation.

Biomimicry is a field of integrative study in which biological systems, processes, and elements are examined to draw analogies for application to human design challenges.

Jane Toner, Senior Associate at SBE, said that biomimicry seeks to embrace nature’s genius for adaptation to the earth’s various environments by finding solutions that contribute to creating conditions conducive to life on this planet. Jane has recently graduated as a Biomimicry Specialist with Biomimicry 3.8.

With millions of species of organisms existing in a wide range of climates and environments and billions of creative human minds, the possibilities for drawing on nature’s genius are endless,” said Jane.

Biomimicry is an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving in which biologists, architects, engineers, chemists, designers, and more combine their expertise with the knowledge of nature’s evolutionarily refined organisms to progress the fields of building design, technology, renewable energy, and beyond.

The central concept behind biomimicry is that nature has already solved many of the problems we’re dealing with today, and that animals, plants, and microbes are the world’s greatest architects, designers and engineers.

“Biomimics ask the question: How would nature do that?” Jane said. “Biomimicry takes some of nature’s best ideas, and applies them to solving human problems. This could be something like looking at how termite mounds maintain a constant temperature in spite of extreme external temperatures and then applying the learning to design energy-efficient ventilation systems in buildings such as the one designed by Mick Pearce in Harare, Zimbabwe.

“The fact that nature has been evolving and adapting to conditions on earth for 3.8 billion years means that biologically-inspired designs have a positive outcome for a sustainable environment,” said Jane. “We need to harness that knowledge for a more efficient and sustainable future.”

Related Links
• Ask Nature: www.asknature.org

• Biomimicry 3.8:  www.biomimicry.net/letter.html

• Eastgate Centre Building, Harare, Zimbabwe:www.asknature.org/product/373ec79cd6dba791bc00ed32203706a1


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