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

109

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

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.
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).

Oct28

Biomimicry + Urban Green Harbors Workshop

Urban Green Harbors and LivingLabs Logo

Urban Green Harbors Design Charette

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?

Two years since Superstorm Sandy, the world is a different place. Everyone is talking about “resilient coastal cities”, but what does that really mean? What can we learn from inherently sustainable and resilient natural systems? And how can we apply nature’s adaptive strategies to our urban harbors?

THE CHALLENGE 
How would nature design resilient breakwaters, supporting human and ecological services and functions?

OBJECTIVES 
Introduction to the science, philosophy and practice of Biomimicry and the 6 Biomimicry Principles.

PRACTICAL EXERCISE 
Design charrette of a local breakwater on Governor’s Island. Work with an interdisciplinary team of designers, biologists, architects, engineers and planners. Final designs will be presented to the NY Harbor School

WHEN     Monday, November 17th from 10AM to 5PM

WHERE   Pershing Hall, Governor’s Island – the Ferry leaves from the Battery Maritime Building (the historic green building to the left of the glass Staten Island Ferry bldg) promptly at 10 AM. Address: 10 South St, New York, NY 10004

COST      $60 per person, $40 for first 10 registrants, 2 student scholarships currently available

RSVP

LEAD INSTRUCTOR : DR. ANAMARIJA FRANKIC

Dr. Anamarija FrankicDr. Frankic is founder and director of the Green Harbors Project®. She is a Biomimicry Educational Fellow, and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Zadar. Her background in biology, ecology, limnology and marine science guide her interdisciplinary work in coastal and watershed ecosystem stewardship and restoration. Anamarija founded the LivingLabs® program where students and local communities can ‘learn and teach by doing’ biomimicry, applying nature’s wisdom to be healthy, wealthy and resilient.

ABOUT THE DESIGN CHARETTE 
Each participant will be assigned to a diverse 5 person team, based on your background and experience. Volunteers from BiomimicryNYC and Biomimicry New England will be assigned to each team in order to provide guidance through the research phase and biomimicry design process.

WORKSHOP PARTNER : THE NY HARBOR SCHOOL 
Located in the heart of New York Harbor, Harbor School’s mission is to provide a college-preparatory education built upon New York City’s maritime experience that instills in students the ethics of environmental stewardship and the skills associated with careers on the water.

Inquiries

Student scholarship applicants, please contact adiel@biomimicrynyc.com 

If you are interested in being a Community Partner or Event Sponsor, please contact Adiel Gavish adiel@biomimicrynyc.com.

Community Partner and Sponsor Packet_BiomimicryNYC_Urban Green Harbors

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Jun09

Janine Benyus’ Vision: Cities that Function Like Forests

Janine Benyus Speaks at the ESRI Geodesign Summit

Janine Benyus shares her vision of “Cities that Function Like Forests” and how to get there using Ecological Performance Standards, in her talk at the 2014 Geodesign Summit.

Watch her inspiring presentation here on the Biomimicry Educator Network website.

“In her address, Janine describes how cities could be designed to function just like a forest: restorative, regenerative, sustainable, life giving. She also gives a great introduction to the concept of ecological performance standards, a set of design guidelines that could be used to build resiliency back into our urban environment.”

#Biomimicry #NatureKnows

Mar29

BNYC Featured in Planning Magazine

Planning Magazine_Mother Nature, Designer, Interview with Adiel Gavish

In a recent article for The American Planning Association’s publication, “Planning Magazine”, Dr. Nicola Davies explores biomimicry’s influence in urban planning. In her piece entitled, “Mother Nature, Designer: Using Biomimicry for Planning and Urban Design”, Ms. Davies sites nature inspired examples including the newly re-designed National Building Museum in Washington DC. The author makes a compelling case stating,

… designs can be adapted and transformed from structures that drain resources and energy into entire ecosystems that benefit communities, cities, and the planet.

Adiel Gavish touches on the application of ecological performance standards to resiliency planning in cities,

Because cities essentially operate at an ecologically sub-optimal level, utilizing these metrics aligns us with place-based ecological and biological standards.

Re-connecting to and meeting these standards can inform and improve resiliency planning as well as optimize investments in resilient infrastructure.

Read the full article here.

Oct03

BNYC October Newsletter

Janine Benus and Paul Hawken at Omega 2013

In this edition: Janine Benyus joins Bill Clinton at the Omega Institute for their annual “Where We go From Here” conference; HOK unveils their groundbreaking “Genius of Biome” report, helping us to design buildings that are locally attuned and responsive; and Tamsin Woolley-Barker explores, “How Would Nature Create Generous Cities?”

http://eepurl.com/GjeHj

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