Biomimicry

Bio- what? Biomimicry is the term used to describe the study of ideas from nature and imitating these ideas to solve human problems (http://biomimicryinstitute.org/about-us/what-is-biomimicry.html). The idea is that nature has already figured out the best and most sustainable ways of doing things, so by studying nature we can improve our own inventions and live better lives.

For example, the Eastgate Building in Zimbabwe was designed after exploring the self-cooling mounds of termites.  These creatures keep their mound approximately the same temperature inside at all times, despite outside temperatures ranging from roughly 47 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, the Eastgate building “uses 90% percent less energy for ventilation than conventional buildings its size, and has already saved the building owners over $3.5 million dollars in air conditioning costs (http://biomimicry.net/about/biomimicry/case-examples/architecture/).”

biomimicry - eastgate building

Materials and furnishings can be influenced by nature, as well. One flooring company, InterfaceFLOR, is known for using carpet tiles rather than wall-to-wall carpeting. They not only use sustainable methods and materials to create their carpet tile, but also draw inspiration from the forest in their designs. Noting the organized chaos often seen in nature, InterfaceFLOR offers carpet tiles that are not in a specific pattern, and can be placed at random to create different looks across the floor. Below is an image from their Atlanta showroom, displaying the biomimetric-inspired flooring.

biomimicry - interfaceFLOR

Every day examples of biomimicry are also in effect. Using the sun as a natural light source as opposed to artificial lighting is one example. Less energy is used for both lighting and cooling purposes. An Interiors and Sources article called Inviting Nature In discusses some biomimetric approaches to lighting, “In the natural world, the most innovative lighting strategies might emerge from studying begonias, which maximize photosynthesis in low-light conditions by using clear surface cells to focus light. Or perhaps the ideal approach is to mimic emperor penguins, whose beaks reflect UV light via a multilayer reflector photonic microstructure.”

Another day to day example is seen in this fun and innovative honeycomb chair!

biomimicry - honeycomb chair

Biomimicry is not solely used for architecture and design, but for many products and processes.  Other examples include a bullet train designed after a Kingfisher’s beak and learning to warn people about tsunamis from dolphins. Even seashells have been examined and emulated, as they naturally move water and air efficiently, and have influenced the designs of our fans to be quieter and more energy efficient.

biomimicry - kingfisher beak and bullet train

Biomimicry 3.8 is just one company that has a lot to offer on this topic. With everything from case examples to educational courses, they have the information you need to learn more and get involved.  The courses are not only offered for children, but at the university and professional levels, as well.

The possibilities nature has to offer are endless. In an ever-growing drive to be more sustainable and less harmful to our planet, biomimicry is a key factor. To search studies and examples on your own, go to http://www.asknature.org/.

This post was written by Leanne.

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