Biomimicry New England - RGBC Meeting September 11th, 2017

By Molly Cox on 9/12/2017

The Residential Green Building Committee gathered on September 11th, 2017. We had some new faces, so it was great to meet folks in the green building space, working towards the same goal.

We had a guest presentation from Peter Lawrence, President and co-founder of Biomimicry New England, a nonprofit organization. He presented on biomimicry and how bioinspired buildings come to fruition and remain resilient.

First off, what is biomimicry? It is about learning from nature, as Peter explained. He gave a formal definition of “Conscious emulation of natural forms, processes and systems to solve problems.”

Peter mentioned Sir Joseph Paxton, an exemplary figure who practiced biomimicry through his building design, most notably the Crystal Palace. He was inspired by what he had witnessed in the natural world, during his work as a gardener for the 6th Duke of Devonshire.

Peter continued to list some examples of existing technology, with its origination based on the nature that surrounds us. See below for examples of innovative companies, practicing biomimicry:  

  • Take bees for instance, as they instinctively act in such a way that benefits the entire swarm they are part of. Encycle has created a product based on this swarm intelligence, via Swarm Logic. This technology allows RTU units on buildings to communicate independently, just like the bees communicate without direction from their queen bee.
  • Sharklet Technologies, Inc. is another firm, that produced a product that mimics the way sharks keep algae from collecting on their coats, and applies it to hulls of submarines and ships.
  • NBD nano manufactures a coating, that replicates the same sensation that occurs on the back of the Namib Desert Beetle. The beetle has a hydrophobic surface that rejects water, and as a method of hydration for the beetle, the surface of the beetle’s back allows water to roll down and into its mouth.
  • Brent Constantz at Blue Planet, created a carbon mix which uses less energy than manufacturing the conventional concrete we use so much in buildings. This carbon block production emulates coral in the ocean, which harvests Carbon Dioxide naturally.

 

 

Peter went on to tell us about projects he is working on. Biomimicry and Resilience is a course his company ran earlier in June, and are looking to expand their courses and teacher base. Feel free to reach out to someone on the RGBC committee or Peter directly, if you would like to learn more.

Peter noted that understanding nature’s process is integral to biomimicry, especially when creating product based on this practice. We should not be fighting nature, but rather learning how to live like the natural world around us.


The Living Building Challenge is a leading example of biomimicry practices at its finest. Speaking of, come join us for the “Introduction to the Living Building Challenge” on September 28th (register HERE). Also, come join the chapter for the “September Greenbuild Mixer with JLL” on September 21st (register HERE).

Catch you at our next RGBC meeting on October 16th!