The next step in the sustainability journey: What would nature do?

Janine Benyus, author of “Biomimicry”, discusses the future of sustainability as the world appears to be preparing for a paradigm shift in how our relationship with the environment. Benyus points to nature as a new source of inspiration for tools to deal with environmental issues. She points to the needs for products and buildings to not only prevent pollution but to actively aid the environment. There are many processes that occur that the built environment can support like the carbon cycle or the nitrogen cycle. Benyus asserts that at the most basic level sustainability must start with the understanding that all human activity is deeply interwoven with nature.

Key Takeaways:

  • Janine Benyus is widely credited with inventing the concept of “biomimicry,” a way of inventing things based on designs that exist in nature.
  • A good example of biomimicry is an air filtration system inspired by the root systems that mangroves use to capture airborne soil.
  • When designing a product for the future, we will need to think more about its entire lifecycle, and about the materials we use to make it.

“The idea is that the building and its grounds (including the permeable parking lot) will provide the same beneficial impact on the surrounding area, which used to be a forest.”

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