Nov29

A Cure for the Uncommon Cold

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By Tom McKeag

When Arthur DeVries arrived at McMurdo Station in 1961, he was fresh from Stanford University where he had signed up for a 13-month stint to study the respiratory metabolism of the endemic Notothenioid fishes found in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Notothenioids are Antarctic icefish, a suborder of the order of Perciformes. This order is the most numerous order of vertebrates in the world and includes perch, cichlids, and sea bass. Five families of Notothenioid fish dominate the Southern Ocean, comprising over 90 percent of the fish biomass of the region. They are a key part of an entire ecosystem, but that ecosystem would not exist in its robust form if they had not evolved a way to beat the extreme cold of these polar waters. DeVries would eventually find out how.

McMurdo station is at the southern tip of Ross Island, the largest of three U.S. science installations in Antarctica. Established in 1958, McMurdo had all the fea-tures of any work camp on the edge of raw nature, with few embellishments be-yond generators, supply pallets and Quonset huts. The research community there existed in defiance of the climate, rather than because of it: recorded tem-perature extremes are as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius and average annual temperatures reside at minus 18 degrees Celsius.

Icefishuk

Despite the conditions, De Vries thrived in the close-knit academic atmosphere and the rugged fieldwork of catching, stocking and analyzing fish. The challenges of his temporary job there, however, would lead him unexpectedly to a ground-breaking discovery and a lifetime of polar science. Some of the fish he was catching and holding in tanks were dying, while others were not. His zeal to solve his problem and his curiosity to find its causes would lead to an entire branch of research. As he told Scientia Publications,

“During these experiments I noticed that a deep water Notothenioid fish would freeze to death if any ice was present in our refrigerated salt water while those caught in the shallow water survived in the presence of ice. I decided to investi-gate why there was a difference in these species living in water of the same temperature (-1.9°C) for my PhD thesis research at Stanford. I investigated what compounds were responsible for their capability to avoid freezing in this envi-ronment while fishes in temperate waters would freeze to death at -0.8°C. My study culminated in the discovery of the antifreeze glycoproteins, the com-pounds responsible for their extreme freeze avoidance.”

The Antarctic icefish DeVries was studying are in a special club of organisms with the ability to live at low-temperature extremes. Some of these organisms, like the North American Wood Frog, are able to recover from freezing, and some, like the icefish, survive by avoiding being frozen. A great range of creatures from insects to diatoms to fungi and bacteria are also in this group that uses so-called ice-binding proteins (IBP) to survive. They use one of five general mechanisms for this: producing antifreeze; structuring ice where, for instance, an alga will create a more moderate liquid pocket within ice; adhering to ice, such as certain bacteria do; nucleating ice; and inhibiting ice recrystallization. Recrystallization is the consolidation of small ice crystals into bigger ones as they are attracted by hydrogen bonding in a cascade effect.

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The icefish have evolved the first strategy of creating their own antifreeze. Anti-freeze proteins (AFP) can be defined as any ice-binding proteins that depress the hysteresis freezing point below the hysteresis melting point, thereby creating a “thermal hysteresis gap”. They are typically alpha helix glycoproteins also known as antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGP) or thermal hysteresis proteins (THP). Thermal hysteresis is the separation of freezing and melting temperatures. The fish are able to lower the point at which the water inside them freezes, while the point at which it melts remains the same (more on surprising developments on this later). To understand how this works requires a brief discussion of water it-self.

Water is the universal medium on earth, with unique properties essential to a wide range of livable conditions and is a critical part of living things themselves. No other common material exists naturally on our planet in all three phases, liq-uid, solid and gas. Strong covalent bonds hold oxygen and hydrogen atoms together in a single molecule, but weaker hydrogen bonds connect water mole-cules to each other. The polar nature of the molecule, with oxygen negative and hydrogen positive, allows it to bind readily to other molecules, making for an excellent and universal solvent. Water has a high thermal capacity, which might be described as a reticence to change temperatures despite its surroundings. This creates an important moderating influence on climate at many scales. It has been estimated that our oceans can absorb one thousand times the heat as our atmosphere without significantly changing temperature. Most of the increased heat of global climate change, for example, has been absorbed by the earth’s oceans.

antifreeze proteins

When water becomes colder, its density follows a predictable material trend, growing denser with each drop in temperature, until 4 degrees C. When water turns to ice it becomes lighter, less dense (approximately 9%) as the hydrogen atoms link to form a crystal lattice structure. This characteristic allows ice to float on top of its denser liquid phase, making overwintering aquatic life possible around the globe, including in the Antarctic Ocean. The expansion of water in the change from liquid to the solid phase can also be a powerful disruptive force; able to split granite.

This force can be equally straining at the intracellular and cellular level. Expan-sion of solid water inside of cells may cause them to burst, and the freezing of the intercellular spaces causes water loss and ion and metabolite buildup as ice forms. This water imbalance prompts a flow of liquid out of the cells and into the spaces between. This can lead to a toxic concentration of ions within the cell or a significant loss of pressure resistance and cell collapse.
A range of organisms across kingdoms has adapted to temperatures that freeze water: plants, yeasts, bacteria, and animals like fish and insects. They employ different stratagems, but all must live by the physical rules of their environments, especially the characteristics of water.

When salt is dissolved in water it lowers its freezing point. Seawater, therefore, has slightly different properties than fresh as the dissolved salts (3.5% for typical seawater) lower the freezing point to minus 1.9 degrees C. This is called freezing point depression and is a common evolved stratagem for many cold climate dwellers or psychrophiles. De Vries realized that the freezing point depression exhibited in his surviving shallow water fish could not be explained solely by common body salts in the serum of the fish. He devised a series of experiments to differentiate the chemical makeup of his two types of fish and isolated the glycoproteins that were key to his discovery. The proteins were attaching themselves to ice crystals within the blood of the fish and preventing them from growing. This, combined with body salts, allowed the fish to maintain liquid blood at minus 2.5 degrees C.

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What he and his colleagues eventually found out was that these glycoproteins were binding to ice crystals irreversibly in a process they termed adsorp-tion-inhibition (DeVries and Raymond, 1977). This is a so-called “step pinning” process in which crucial physical sequences necessary for freezing are inter-rupted or curtailed. In this case, the AFP’s were binding to small nascent ice crystals and forcing ice formation into smaller spaces between adsorption sites thereby bending the ice lattice’s growth front into a curve. This created a higher surface free energy and effectively lowered the freezing point in a phenomenon called the Gibbs-Thomson effect.

AFP’s are typically small compound proteins with an eccentric load of the amino acid threonine. Threonine has a hydrophilic surface that water molecules attach to weakly. This adsorption inhibits the microcrystals from coalescing into larger crystals and keeps the water in the liquid state.

It appears that these small ice crystals remain in the fish for their lifetimes, but this is still being studied. While there is no evidence that the fish are adversely affected by the year-round presence of the crystals, DeVries believes that they must have a mechanism to void them. One surprising recent discovery has been that the presence of the AFP’s make the crystals resist melting; higher tempera-tures are needed to melt them as well as lower temperatures needed to form them.

What is not known, according to DeVries, is just how these proteins are able to recognize solid phase water molecules within this liquid environment and prefer-entially bind to them. How they prevent growth is also still be investigated, with the adsorption-inhibition model still open to debate and refinement. Nonetheless, there is no refuting this as a successful survival strategy. Indeed, it is an example of convergence, often an indicator, if not a guarantee, of effective and durable solutions in nature. Two genetically distinct populations of fish, one in the Arctic (the Arctic Cod) and one in the Antarctic (Notothenioids), have developed these techniques.

The discovery of these anti-freeze proteins may have touched off an entire re-search industry into their abilities, but do they perform as well as their commer-cial namesake? It seems that they do, as a matter of fact much better by an order of magnitude. The reason is the selectivity that they exhibit in attaching to the small ice crystals. Ethylene glycol, the green liquid typically used in car radiators, works by mass action effect, disrupting hydrogen bonding by the chemical equivalent of carpet bombing. Although it is not persistent, the chemical is a moderately toxic poison. When swallowed it is converted into oxalic acid by ethanol hydrogenase. Oxalic acid is highly toxic, affecting the central nervous system, heart, lungs and kidneys. It is responsible for tens of thousands of animal poisonings and thousands of human poisonings each year. Ethylene glycol has been demonstrated as a developmental toxicant in higher doses in rats.

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Propylene glycol with metal nanoparticles has been developed as a safer alternative to ethylene glycol, but lacks the efficiency of the AFP’s. It is cheaper, however, readily available and uses a material already employed in the food industry and approved by the FDA.

Despite decades of research into the mechanism of these proteins, industry ap-plications remain few, with proteins from the Arctic pout fish used in ice cream to prevent recrystallization, and AFP’s and growth hormones introduced to trans-genic farmed salmon for cold-weather hardiness and increased growth. It is in the biomedical field, however, where the use of these proteins promises the most rewards and challenges.

Transporting and transplanting organs, preserving human bodies for the future miracles of medicine (cryonics), and performing surgery are all endeavors where AFP’s could play a revolutionary role. Single cells, like sperm and eggs, are rou-tinely frozen and stored, but larger tissue is more difficult to preserve. AFP’s have been employed successfully to preserve rat and pig hearts in below freezing temperatures. In one experiment, researchers removed a rat heart, preserved it in sterile water and AFP’s at minus 1.3 degrees C for 24 hours, then transplanted the warmed up (non-pumping) heart into a new rat.

Notwithstanding these early successes and the great promise of AFP’s, the technology of preserving human organs still lags far behind the medical demand. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 21 patients a day die waiting for an organ that is not available. Lungs remain usable for only twelve hours and hearts only four or five, using the current techniques. The toxicity of cryoprotectants and the disruptive effects of thawing are two of the most challenging problems. While vitrification is an effective technique of quick freezing of organs to a glass state, most techniques rely on pumping the cells full of toxic chemicals, and it is in the thawing where damage is most severe. Differential warming causes splintering and fracturing of material subjected to opposing forces. One University of Minnesota team, however, is working on a method of using nanoparticles to gently and uniformly heat organs back to living temperatures. The magnetic nanoparticles are excited to activity (and heat) by radio waves in a process the team calls “nanowarming”, and the technique has been used successfully on clusters of cells.

Other research teams are looking elsewhere in nature for even more effective anti-freeze compounds. One is a glycolipid found in a freeze-tolerant Alaskan beetle, Upis ceramboides which allows the insect to endure temperatures of mi-nus 60 degrees C and still recover. Cell and Tissue Systems of South Carolina is employing it successfully in the preservation of tissues for days at below zero temperatures without deterioration, according to the company. The glycolipid appears to coat the membrane of the cell, armoring it against external ice and sealing it against the osmotic draw of liquid from the cell.

Whether using a protein or a glycolipid, lowering freezing temperatures or endur-ing being frozen, pumping themselves full of cryoprotectants, sealing themselves up or drying themselves out, nature’s organisms of all domains have come to live with the uncommon cold. It is still up to human researchers to fully unlock these secrets and put them to use in the better preservation of life.


 

Originally posted on Zygote Quarterly.

Nov27

Earth is (already) great

koala-sleeping

A joint letter from the Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8.

Let’s work together to build a just world for us all, with nature as a guide.

We’ve all spent too much time inside the last few days, looking at our computers and TV screens. In that time, birds were flying south for the winter, rain was restoring thirsty hills in California, and baby koalas were being born in Australia.

A species can only thrive if its strategies are tuned to the conditions it’s in–and if it’s in beneficial relationships with others. Humans have co-existed as a species on this planet for over 200,000 years as Homo sapiens sapiens. In that time, there have been many disturbances, challenges, and tensions between and amongst us. Somehow, we have eventually learned that we are always better together than alone.

And through it all, we always asked nature for help.

Nature adapts to changing conditions, over short and long periods of time. For that reason alone, it offers us humans millions of answers on how to build a fair world that works for all species.  

We have a vibrant planet, one full of solutions to every problem we have. As we all collectively navigate this time of great change ahead, we encourage everyone to continue to look to nature. Take long walks, have conversations with birds, spend time pondering the ants.  

Go outside – enjoy it, learn from it, and protect it.

Sincerely,

Your friends at the Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8

Oct10

Urban mobility reloaded: Planning our future cities

Subway_System

By Dr. Arndt Pechstein

Our cities are constantly growing and an ever-rising number of people live on a very small fraction of the world’s surface area. By 2050, about 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. Half of the population of Asia alone is predicted to live in cities by 2020. Over 60% of the land projected to become urban by 2030 remains yet to be built. Mobility no longer remains an optional luxury for an elite but has transformed into a non-negotiable to participate in society. Consequently, smart mobility solutions are gaining importance. How do we tackle such a challenge of global dimension? How do we serve people’s needs for mobility while simultaneously sacrificing neither biodiversity and environmental values nor human health and well-being?

The light bulb was not invented by improving the candle.”

Urban mobility Dr. Arndt Pechstein

Reinventing the wheel

Despite our pride of having invented the wheel (which is, by the way, not entirely true given that the golden wheel spider has been using wheel motion for millions of years before us) humans are not the only species tackling mobility challenges. In fact, mobility is an inherent phenomenon shared by all living systems. Everything alive moves, from cells to organisms to entire ecosystems. Over billions of years, organisms and systems have evolved to be remarkably adaptive to their surroundings with regard to transport, mobility, and logistics.

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Aug14

Evaporation: Closing the Gap between Forest and Urban Water Flows

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By Jennifer Barnes and Alexandra Ramsden

Have you ever walked through an evergreen forest in the rain? There is a hush all around. The forest floor is spongy and soft beneath your feet, and the layers and textures all around you create a coziness, a feeling of being protected. As you take a deep breath of fresh, clean air, you know it’s raining big drops up above, but all you feel is a cool mist floating down through the canopy.

You can find expansive sections of this forest all around Puget Sound. For many people, it is a mental and spiritual health reservoir, a place that helps us reconnect and remember that we are nature. But it is also an ecosystem services powerhouse. It stores carbon, cleans the air and water, regulates temperatures, and provides shelter and food for critters big and small.

Before urban development, this forest dominated Seattle’s landscape. Dotted with bogs and meadows, with wetlands proliferating along the rich edges between forest and water, the vast majority of the region was forest. And the system operated in dynamic balance.

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Jan29

It’s a Biomimicry Bonanza at Living Future 2015

living futures un-conference

So … how many biomimics can we fit into one conference?

FOURTEEN of our colleagues and friends are speaking at the Living Future Institute 2015 un-conference April 1 – 3 in Seattle, with Janine Benyus keynoting.

Some of the hi-lights (there’s too many to list!) include a “Walking Exploration” in which participants will “learn how to interpret nature’s lessons with three leading biomimicry experts and apply them to design challenges in your own community”, as well as a discussion which will examine the value of and approach to incorporating deep ecological intelligence into a project.

We’re also excited about Cities that Function Like Forests: An Innovative Approach to Urban Resiliency with two Biomimicry Network founders.

Here’s the complete list of Biomimicry speakers:

 

Joe Zazzera

Green Plants for Green Buildings

Biomimicry Specialist

 

Tamsin Woolley-Barker

Biomimicry 3.8

Research Consultant

 

Christopher Lee Allen

Chris Allen + Associates

Owner

 

Jennifer Barnes

55-5 Consulting

Architect

 

Denise DeLuca

BCI: Biomimicry for Creative Innovation

Director

 

Eric Corey Freed

International Living Future Institute

VP of Global Outreach

 

Alexandra Ramsden

RUSHING

Associate Principal

 

Bill Reed

Regenesis

Principal

 

Josh Stack

Northeast Green Building Consulting, LLC

Attorney and Counselor at Law

 

Janus Welton

Eco Architecture Design Works, PC

Architect

 

Jane Toner

Melbourne Living Building Collaborative

Biomimicry Specialist

 

Kris Callori

EDI

CEO

 

Juan Rovalo

In Site

Founding Principal

Jan27

Revealing Nature’s Life-Friendly Chemistry at GreenBiz 2015

Learning from Nature

We’re excited to share that Mark Dorfman, a Biomimicry Chemist with Biomimicry 3.8, and board member of the BiomimicryNYC network will be presenting during the upcoming GreenBiz Forum 2015 to be held Feb. 17-19 in Phoenix, Arizona. Learn more about his session, One Great Idea: Leapfrogging the Missteps of the First Industrial Revolution. Mark will explore how to apply nature’s principles to the world of modern manufacturing.

Spider web: nature's green chemistry and patterns

“Biomimicry reveals the principles and patterns behind nature’s materials to inspire breakthrough products and processes,” Mr. Dorfman has explained in previous lectures.

“There is a misconception that chemicals are man-made entities that contaminate an otherwise chemical-free natural world. The truth is, nature is alive with chemistry. For example, scent is a language written in chemical sentences, punctuated with electrical impulses, and spoken with simple meaning or complex communication.”

There is so  much we can learn from nature-made materials, patterns and structures. For example, nature’s materials are hierarchically ordered chemical ecosystems of:
• Proteins
• Sugars
• Minerals

And with these parameters, our natural world creates materials that are high performing, multifunctional, beautiful and sustainable. An elegant and regenerative design brief for future products.

Nature is alive with chemistry

We look forward to hearing Mark speak and hope you will join the conversation in Arizona!

Also, feel free to use the Biomimicry Institute’s partner code for 10% off registration: GBF15BIOM

 

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.com

 

Jan20

Global Biomimicry Design Challenge Launches Today!

Biomimicry Design Challenge

A chance to re-invent the way we nourish ourselves & our planet. https://t.co/v29CZSDXG3 #Biomimicry #DesignChallenge #BGDC2015

How can nature inspire us to design a better, healthier food system? The Biomimicry Institute and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation are inviting professionals and students from across the world to participate in a Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. Using biomimicry as a tool, participants are invited to tap into nature-inspired solutions to help solve key food and agriculture issues like food waste, food packaging, agricultural pest management, food distribution, energy use, and more.

Participants may be featured in high profile media and will have access to biomimicry experts, mentors, and valuable resources. Teams will be competing for cash prizes totaling $160,000, including the Ray C. Anderson Foundation $100,000 “Ray of Hope” Prize.

Many thanks to Louie Schwartzberg and his team at Moving Art, who generously donated their time and gorgeous cinematography for this video.

 

Info and video courtesy of The Biomimicry Institute.
Jan08

Crafting the Ultimate Post-Industrial Design Brief Using Biomimicry

Janine Benyus Paul Hawken at VERGE 2014

By Adiel Gavish

“What the industrial age has done is take life away from the planet and turn it into goods and services,” Paul Hawken stated at the 2014 VERGE Conference in San Francisco this past December. The annual event put on by Joel Makower, a former Biomimicry 3.8 Board Member and GreenBiz.com brings corporations and entrepreneurs together around the convergence of energy, buildings and transportation technologies which will “…enable radical efficiencies and huge opportunities.”

Mr. Makower interviewed both Janine Benyus and Paul Hawken around the idea of “running the industrial age backwards” and how nature can teach us how to undo the damage caused by unraveling the fabric of Earth’s balanced resources.

According to Paul Hawken the Industrial Age essentially takes “…concentrated materials, primarily from the lithosphere and from the biosphere and disperses them everywhere on the planet: in the oceans, in our atmosphere, in our air, lungs and everywhere else.”

He continued, “What we know from biomimicry, and looking at how life works is that, what nature does is, concentrate … What we’re talking about is technologies that imitate nature in the sense that they re-concentrate what the industrial age dispersed into our water, our soil, etc.,” and in a way that is beneficial to the planet, as opposed to degrading.

Janine explained, “In the natural world, what’s abundant is golden … life is really good at concentrating photons, grabbing fog and humidity out of the air, or collecting phosphor,” for example. Benyus then outlined the ultimate nature-inspired design brief for essentially any product in a post industrial era, in order to undo the damage already caused.

“It has to be made out of local, abundant, non-toxic, raw material,” she said, “cheap, and available everywhere. You’ve got to be able to recruit those materials at the end of their life. It has to be able to be repaired or self-healing, or so ubiquitous that it can be replaced easily … I think it’s very important that it’s built to shape – it can be made on a printing press. And that’s another reason why I’m excited about additive manufacturing and 3-D printing. If we get it right and use truly local, raw materials, we build them to shape. We add structure that we find from the natural world – because that’s what life does with fairly simple, raw materials.

(more…)

Dec04

Is Nature the Coolest #Startup in the World?

Girl and Mountains

In Silicon Valley, where startups are born just as quickly as they perish, the predominant saying is, “Innovate or Die.” In the natural world, that saying holds true in an even more literal sense, and applies to not only entire species, but the ecosystems of which they are an integral part.

From a systems perspective, mother nature is a design expert and stellar model of ubiquitous innovation.

Unlike Silicon Valley, the “enterprises” that comprise nature’s business of “creating conditions conducive to life” are billions of years old, with standard operating procedures and innovation strategies connected to the very beginning of life on the planet. A quick Google search for “the world’s oldest companies” will tell you that ConEd was born in 1823, Lloyd’s insurance in 1688 and Kongo Gumi construction in 578. There is no decimal missing there, it was actually founded in 578.

Nature’s “valuation” is priceless and shareholder return, infinite.

Nature is an entrepreneurial system that has been conducting research and development not for tens, hundreds or even thousands, but billions of years. From a systems perspective, mother nature is a design expert and stellar model of ubiquitous innovation.

Photo Credit: Chris Moore

“Nature can’t put its factory on the outskirts of town. It has to work where it lives.” Janine Benyus

Our natural world is not only the guru of green design, but a startup whiz who’s had billions of years to perfect her craft. And not only does she make cool “apps” like spring and summer, but she does so in tandem with all other species so that her “valuation” is priceless and shareholder return, infinite.

Take a closer look at the way in which the natural world makes and does things, and you may find the equation for sustainable innovation. If business were to look at the natural world “as our mentor, rather than a warehouse of goods” as Janine Benyus, co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8 has stated, they may be able to find the secrets to long term success.

“Life creates conditions conducive to life”.

Studying these principles of good, regenerative design is a science and movement called biomimicry. Some also consider it an art form, in which nature’s sustainability strategies and principles are applied to man-made challenges. This goes beyond “net zero” impact. Nature never strives for zero. Not only is it boring, but it makes no sense. In order to create conditions that are optimal for life on the planet, you must constantly innovate, because life is always changing. If it didn’t, well, then life would be dead.

Janine Benyus, the biologist and philosopher, with Dr. Dayna Baumeister distilled our natural world’s best practices into a set of standards called “Life’s Principles” urges us to remember that “life creates conditions conducive to life.” It is not a “goal”, but rather a universal charge. Every single product (flora and fauna) and service (carbon cycle, water cycle, biomes and ecosystems) creates value, so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This underlying framework keeps everything working together, in balance, in sync and in harmony, at an optimal level. The application of “Life’s Principles” to global challenges is an emerging science, philosophy, discipline and art. Rather than ask, what can we take from the natural world, biomimicry encourages us to ask, “What can we learn?”

And not only is biomimicry on the rise, but the principles by which nature operates are popping up in man-made innovations in our universal quest to do “more good” and not just “less bad”. This focus beyond “sustain”ability has organically evolved into regenerative design – something our planet has been doing for billions of years.

Nature’s strategies are echoed in the relatively recent development of the sharing economy, the circular economy, social enterprise, big data applications, “smart” products, resilient cities, and so on. It’s all trending towards “regenerative”.

When you look outside today, you see what has survived. These innovations are built to last. And they do so by giving back to the (eco)systems of which they are an integral part.

Nature’s wisdom, as the world’s longest standing “startup social enterprise” is the most powerful natural resource we have yet to explore.

 

Oct31

Mimicking the Salt Marsh for #ResilientCities

Dr. Anamarija Frankic

By Dr. Anamarija Frankic

In response to growing coastal challenges, including habitat degradation, loss of biodiversity, and climate change, efforts around the country and the world are increasingly embracing strategies and initiatives focused on promoting environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

The most significant impediment to sustaining our coastal natural and human built systems, and the goods and services they provide, is not a lack of technical knowledge but the need for all stakeholders to understand whole systems-level intricacies that true conservation, restoration and adaptation work requires.

Eastern oysters cleaning up to 50 gallons of water per day.

Eastern oysters clean up to 50 gallons of water per day.

 

My work is based on a biomimicry approach in addressing coastal issues. Natural coastal systems and local keystone species like oysters, and habitats such as shellfish beds, salt marshes and eelgrasses work together to stabilize our coasts, sediments, filter water of nutrients and pollutants, providing conditions conducive to life, which are resilient and adaptive to environmental changes.

Observing and learning from coastal systems leads naturally into a discussion on how to apply this wisdom in our human built environment.

The Design Charette I am teaching in November with BiomimicryNYC will explore ideas such as,

How can urban harbors accrete sediment and stop erosion like the salt marsh;

while improving water quality like the oyster reef;

and creating a habitat for other species like eel grass beds?

I’m looking forward to teaching and working with designers, engineers, architects and social entrepreneurs in this region, and excited to see what innovative ideas our teams produce.

If you’re interested in joining our Design Charette on November 17, 2014, please visit this page for more information.

(Frankic et al. 2011).