October 2004: Biomimetic Buildings - Understanding & Applying the Lessons of Nature

Author: Onno Koelman 

Onno starts the article by posing the question: "Can we keep building and building while at the same time slow down our damage to the environment? Is there perhaps a way that building could have a restorative effect?" Onno's previous article described the three ways Biomimicry can help develop better materials, find natural process for basic heating functions, and encourage development of buildings that produce (rather than drain) resources.

The Rocky Mountain Institute has been at the forefront of the green building movement. RMI is looking to nature to solve six major problems involving buildings, including scaling in pipes, toxic adhesives, concrete, coloring, cooling and mold growth.

This article describes some specific examples, including solving the problem of pipe scaling, identifying alternatives to concrete, and the application of principles learned from termite mounds to naturally cool buildings. A key requirement is collaboration between architects, engineers, biologists and designers in a "synthesis of fields", to achieve "the non-violent overthrow of bad engineering."

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