Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Uncategorized

Greener Design by Imitating Nature

Article by Amy Hengst appearing courtesy of Matter Network.
Termite mounds may look like ugly piles of dirt, but they provide important clues for architects designing energy-efficient buildings.
Termite mounds are built six to 30 feet high off the ground in hot ecosystems and are riddled with tunnels at their peaks that provide passive ventilation, allowing cool air to flow through. Architects in Zimbabwe have used the termites’ model in building a large, beautiful building with a similar ventilation system.
By imitating nature’s model, they were able to save 90 percent in energy costs because they didn’t need to install any air conditioning, according to designer Jeremy Faludi.
This process of emulating nature is called biomimicry. Speaking at the West Coast Green conference last week in San Francisco, Faludi said biomimicry could help us create products and buildings that are more material and energy-efficient, robust, flexible, and long-lasting.
“Nature uses sophisticated organic chemistry that we’re just beginning to understand,” he said.
Where natural systems tend to use simple and readily available components like hydrogen and carbon, human structures use bulk metals that are stable over time and resist fatigue but that require too much energy to produce.
“We’ve started using Kevlar, carbon fiber, and other composites in the last 20 years, but our processes are still too energy intensive,” Faludi explained.
Organic structures tend to be more flexible and bendable than human structures, and many living systems can repair themselves or reclaim wastes in ways that our creations can’t.
Faludi explained ways that designers and enthusiasts can incorporate biomimetic principles in their upcoming design projects, for example by inviting biologists to provide insight at the design table, attending workshops, or hiring expert consultants who can help them do research. Designers should compare and contrast at least a dozen different strategies, find common solutions, and translate them to a design strategy relevant to their project, he said.
Faludi warned that designers should carefully define their problem before embarking on research. In some climates, most of the costs for maintaining cool buildings are focused on dehumidification rather than temperature, so a designer who looked only at temperature concerns could miss critical information.
Further resources for designers are available through the Biomimicry Guild and the Biomimicry Institute and through AskNature.org, an open source resource that provides examples from the natural world and explores how they might apply to designers.
[photo credit: Flickr]

 
Check out our brand new E-Bike Guide. If you're curious about electric bikes, this is the best place to start your e-mobility journey!
 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Advertisement
 
Written By

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

Comments

You May Also Like

Clean Transport

Could Zimbabwe’s Public Transport Chaos Catalyze The Adoption Of Electric Scooters For Personal Mobility?

Clean Transport

Remittances are the largest source of capital inflows into low and middle-income countries. However, unrecorded flows through informal channels are thought to be at...

Research

Biodiversity takes center stage on the flat-topped "islands in the sky" that lurch out of the Amazon in South America.

Buildings

Green roofs, capturing rainwater, energy consumption and production, and stormwater treatment are just a few examples of top regenerative design strategies.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.