July 2004: "The Living Building"

Authors: Bob Berkebile and Jason McLennan

The article describes the current model of "buildings as machines" - increasingly unrelated to culture or climate, inefficient users of energy, and major contributors to waste. The authors contrast this to a prior model where buildings had evolved to meet the unique needs and material of their specific location. Rather than "machines for living in," a different model could be based on flowers:

  • marvels of adaptation
  • rooted in place, drawing energy from their specific location
  • ecosystems in their own right
  • through their beauty, provide inspiration

An increasing number of technologies are now available that are compatible with the principles of Biomimicry, including multi-purpose photovoltaics, fuel cells and ecological waste treatment. One of the leading examples demonstrating the power of combining green technologies with sustainable design principles is the EpiCenter in Bozeman, Montana, designed to "generate a significant portion of its power without pollution, clean all its own wastes on site, and respond actively to temperature changes to maintain a comfortable indoor environment." The article closes with a set of principles of the Living Building of the future, ranging from harvesting resource needs on site, to "be beautiful and inspire us to dream."

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