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Designing Regenerative Cultures
Additional Resources - Chapter 6
Biomimicry 3.8 (p. 163)
biomimicry thinking (p. 165)
Ethical Biomimicry Finance (p. 167)
dye-sensitized solar cell’ technology (p. 169)
the Australian company Dyesol and the Irish company Solarprint (p. 169)
Novomer (p. 169)
Eden Project, (p. 176)
A pilot test and demonstration centre (p. 176)
The ‘Living Building Challenge 3.0’ (p. 177)
free download on the Gaia Education website (p. 181)
the Alliance for Regeneration (p. 182)
VillageLab, (p. 183)
World Urban Campaign (p. 189)
C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (p. 189)
Biomimicry (p. 164)
The ‘Biomimicry Guild’ was set up in 1998 and followed by the non-profit ‘Biomimicry Institute’ in 2005 and a number of new network-based consultancy groups with experience in biologically and ecologically inspired innovation. In addition, there are a number of parallel networks and businesses focused on biologically inspired, technological innovation (without explicitly aiming for increased sustainability). Rather than using the word biomimicry, they tend to refer to their practice as biomimetics, bionics and bio-inspired innovation. Both organizations are now combined within Biomimicry 3.8. More recently, a number of new network-based consultancy groups with experience in biologically and ecologically inspired innovation have set up across Europe and internationally, among them The Symbiosis Group, Biomimicry NL, Biomimicry Europa, Biomimicry Iberia, and Biomimicry for Creative Innovation (BCI), and Biomimicry Switzerland. All of which are now in the process of creating the European Biomimicry Alliance. There are also biomimicry networks in South Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
All of them combine biologically inspired, technological innovation with a strong commitment to sustainability, including in some cases biologically and ecologically inspired business transformation. Among them are the German BioKon Network, Biokon International and Swedish Biomimetics 3000®. These networks and enterprises are not in competition, rather they are collaborating to meet a rapidly growing demand from businesses and organizations worldwide for biologically inspired design, technology and business strategies.
In 2012, Theresa Millard, an R&D specialist working for Kohler, brought a group of inspired biomimics – designers, architects, engineers, biologist and technologists – from around the Iberian Peninsula together to promote this approach in Spain and Portugal. Together, we co-founded the ‘Biomimicry Iberia Association’ in early 2013. Individually and collectively we are now beginning to work in a range of engagements with business, universities and public institutions to build capacity and apply biomimetic innovation. Like our colleagues and collaborators across Europe, we are witnessing a keen interest in this emerging field. Biologically and ecologically inspired innovation, design and technology offers practical pathways towards a regenerative economy and culture.
“Biomimicry lays the groundwork for future profitability and by providing solutions that don’t create new problems; it offers something that short-term, cost saving solutions can’t” (Harman, 2013: 231). Jay Harman has identified a number of success factors: “bio-inspired business needs to be prepared for the long haul” (p.233).
Successful biomimetic business are built on good teams with good interpersonal skills and a system that makes sure that knowledge is shared and never centralized in just one person. Biomimetic product development teams need resilience built into them, being able to cope with disruptions and people leaving or entering the team. “The good news for bio-inspired companies is that our target markets are not as fickle as the fast-moving volatility of sectors like the computer industry and telecom.” Harman stresses: “the industrial world is less about the latest high-tech innovation than about well-proven and sturdy performance. Biomimicry offers the ultimate in performance – which industry is increasingly recognizing” (p.247).
GREEN CHEMISTRY (p. 169)
John Warner founded the ‘Warner Babcock Institute of Green Chemistry’ in 1997. The institute collaborates with a wide range of sectors of the chemical industry to innovate solar energy technologies, alternative fuels, water purification methods and many related technologies. It also offers companies external assessment of the sustainability of the materials and processes they employ along their entire supply chain (Warner Babcock, 2015). Together with his wife, Amy Cannon, John Warner set up the non-profit ‘Beyond Benign’ to develop green chemistry curricula for schools and offer training programmes for students and teachers in schools and universities. “Beyond Benign is dedicated to providing future and current scientists, educators, and citizens with the tools to teach and learn about green chemistry in order to create a sustainable future (Beyond Benign, 2015).
Other leading businesses in the biotechnology and green chemistry field are working to support the shift towards regionally based circular bio-economies that use plant and waste materials as their main feedstock. Among them are the Danish company Novozymes, the world’s largest producer of enzymes; and the USA-based ‘Elevance Renewable Sciences’ which is producing novel building blocks, ingredients, and products for the chemical industry based on state of the art bio-refinery technologies.
BIOLOGICALLY INSPIRED PRODUCT DESIGN (p. 175)
There are many inspiring cutting edge research projects working to extend this range of products even further:
Joanna Aizenberg (Lucent) has mimicked the process by which the brittlestar self-assembles distortion-free lenses out of seawater. … A. K. Geim (University of Manchester) has developed a glue-free, yet sticky, tape modeled on the dry physical adhesion of the gecko’s “setae” —tiny bristles on their feet that adhere to surfaces through Van der Waals forces. The sustainability potential here is in “design for disassembly.” Assembling products using gecko tape instead of glue would allow recyclers to disassemble products without adhesive contamination.
Janine Benyus in Biomimicry 3.8 (2014a)
BIOMIMETIC ARCHITECTURE (p. 176)
Other internationally recognized architects who frequently rely on zoomorphic inspiration for the designs, processes and concepts that shape their buildings are Santiago Calatrava, Michael Sorkin, Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Nicholas Grimshaw (Martin, 2004; Aldersey-Williams, 2003).
THE EDE CURRICULUM
The EDE curriculum has been translated into Danish, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese, Finnish and Chinese; and is available as a free download on the Gaia Education website. Gaia Education’s residential courses and on-line courses are also supported by four excellent collections of short essays, one on each of the four dimensions of the curriculum: worldview (Harland & Keeping, 2012), ecological (Mare & Lindegger, 2011), economic (Dawson, Norberg-Hodge & Jackson 2010), and social (Joubert & Alfred, 2007).
Other instructive examples of eco-industrial parks include: the Tunweni Beer Brewery in Namibia (Cyclifier, 2015); ZERI, 2013); John Todd’s design for the Riverside Eco-Park in Burlington, Vermont (Todd et al., 2003); the ‘Envi Grow Eco-Industrial Park’ in the Forssa region of Finland (DCFR, 2012); and the ZERI integrated coffee production system in Western Colombia (Ask Nature, 2015d).
Ecologically inspired urban and regional planning
Biomimicry 3.8 has also worked with the global engineering giant Jacobs to develop their in-house, systems-based methodology for integrative planning and design based on ‘Life’s Principles’. Monte Wilson, a senior planner and futures specialist at Jacobs, explains: “One of the challenges we face in achieving sustainability goals is how to design with an integrated, holistic approach. Most current measurement tools or quality standards simply don’t account for the multifaceted nature of systems.” He adds: “With our Jacobs’ CHALK approach, designers can use Life’s Principles as nature’s eco-design checklist. Each principle alone is thought-provoking. Together, they form a unified, systemic vision for life-friendly place making” (Wilson, 2013).