BIOMIMICRY Nature as Model, Measure, and Mentor
BI-O-MIM-IC-RY(From the Greek bios, life, and mimesis, imitation) • Nature as model. Biomimicry is a new science that studies Nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems. • Nature as measure. Biomimicry uses an ecological standard to judge “rightness” of our innovations. • Nature as mentor. Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing Nature.
Energy Efficiency: Learning from Nature how to create flow without friction. PAX Fans and Impellers Design: How does Nature attach and detach? Gecko tape
Toxics: Learning from plants how to clean without cleaners: The Lotus Effect
Architecture: Learning from termites how to create sustainable buildings: Passive Climate Control in the Eastport Building, Harare Zimbabwe
Transportation: How does Nature travel quickly and smoothly? The Shinkansen Bullet Train in Japan
Human Safety: Learning from Dolphins how to warn people about Tsunamis
Climate Change: Learning from human lungs how to sequester carbon
The Biomimicry Guild’s Functional Taxonomy Function is the pivot between life’s wisdom and what we are trying to achieve intentionally. • What function do you want your design to perform? • How does life perform that function? The Biomimicry Guild has produced an organized collection of functions that covers everything that life does and that we might want a design to do. The functions are grouped by similarity so it’s called a taxonomy (an organized system of naming) of functions.
Identify the Real Challenge • Don’t ask “what do you want to design?” (an air conditioner) • Ask “what do you want your design to do?” (make people feel cooler) • Ask “why?” multiple times: (Challenge: Air conditioners use lots of energy because they use heat to dry desiccants that dehumidify air and then they must cool the heated air.) • Why use desiccants? (To dry the air) • Why do the units dry air? (Because high humidity makes air feel warmer) • Why are they using heat? (To drive the moisture out of the desiccant so it can be reused) So, you want a design to pull moisture out of air and cool the air!
Develop a Design Brief for the Needed Function • Biologize the Question: • Identify functions (i.e. purpose, role, or use) • How does Nature do that function? • How does Nature not do that function? • Reframe questions with additional keywords.
Develop a Design Brief for the Needed Function • Define Operating Parameters; • “Climate” conditions: (wet, dry, cold, hot, low/high pressure, highly variable, high/low UV,etc.) • “Nutrient” conditions: (nutrient poor =no $, nutrient rich = lots of available materials) • “Social” conditions: (competitive, cooperative) • “Temporal” conditions: (dynamic, static, growing, ageing) After defining operating parameters, ask: “How does Nature do that function HERE? In these conditions?”
Integrate Life's Principles into the Design Brief • Optimize rather than maximize • Locally attuned and responsive • Build in resilience • Leverage interdependence • Integrate cyclic processes • Use benign manufacturing
Find The Best Natural Models • Go for a walk outside • Consider both literal and metaphorical models • Comb the literature • Brainstorm with Biologists
Identify Deep Patterns and Principles • Look across discovered strategies • Look at the strategies collectively Specific to your desired function, what does each strategy have in common? How are they different?
Deepen the Conversation • Are you mimicking form? • Can you mimic process? • Can you mimic the ecosystem? Does the design “create conditions conducive to life”?
Evaluate your findings • Can it adapt and evolve? Thank your teacher (Nature) for the inspiration
Nature as Mentor * Incredibly competent universe * Nature’s living examples * Can live abundantly and enhance where you live * Much older mentors have figured it out * We can do the same thing – JANINE BENYUS
?? Questions ?? How can EPA use Biomimicry to meet our mission? Where are the leverage points EPA can use to promote Biomimicry as part of a sustainable ecosystem approach?