What is “sustainable”?
Current discussions around sustainability tend to center around reduction of energy, water and waste. While these efforts are important, they only scratch the surface of an emerging much broader and deeper understanding of what it will take to be truly “sustainable”. Often-targeted inefficiencies in systems, supply chains and in processes on the manufacturing plant floor are really a result of poor design decisions made elsewhere. To move towards true sustainability, we must move the conversation out of operations and to the design table.
Combining my sustainability background in assessing, understanding, quantifying, reporting and reducing energy, water and waste resources, with my expertise in the sustainable innovation methodology, biomimicry, I can provide a holistic approach to working with your team to think about your sustainability and resiliency challenges in a new light. Biomimicry, a methodology based on learning from and emulating strategies found in other species, offers invaluable insight into not only defining what is “sustainable,” but also provides aspirational goals as well as strategies for how to get there.
To learn more about biomimicry, visit my biomimicry resources page.
Biomimicry can be incorporated into planning, strategy and design approaches at varying depths and breadths of application. Whether you are looking to innovate a new business model or product design, solve an engineering challenge, or revamp a sustainability program, use of biomimicry can guide your team to radical new insights and inspiration.
Each person and organization will follow their own journey in understanding how biomimicry tools can best inform decision-making, processes and outcomes. Pulling from my incredible multi-disciplinary network of Biomimicry Professional colleagues, I can put together the appropriate team to help you at any point in your journey with services such as the following:
You’ve heard of biomimicry, but are not sure how you can use it, or you want to convince others in your organization to give it a try. Through speaking engagements and biomimicry workshops (either on or off site), I can help you and your team answer questions such as, What is biomimicry? What are the biomimicry methodology and tools, and how might they be applied in my case? How might I incorporate biomimicry thinking into my organization? How can I use biomimicry in my innovation or strategy process?
Using biomimicry in the innovation process is like opening a giant candy jar for designers of all backgrounds – they can’t get enough! I can work with your team through the biomimicry innovation methodology process, including:
- Scoping and framing the challenge to ask, “How would nature…?”
- Conducting biological research to identify relevant natural models
- Translating biological strategies into usable design principles with visuals for the design team
- Conducting design charrettes to turn biology principles into design application
Biomimicry’s innovation methodology is inseparable from it’s sustainability ethic. Life is inherently sustainable, and scientists have identified deep patterns that make all species successful (or not) on this planet. These deep patterns form the foundation of the biomimicry framework. Our form, process and system designs that adhere as closely as possible to this framework will shift sustainability programs beyond reducing energy, water and waste impacts towards true system sustainability and resilience. Viewing your organizational structure, policies, business model, product and service designs and life-cycle impacts through a biomimicry framework lens is a powerful tool to evaluate, reassess and advance your organization’s triple bottom line.
Finding inspiring biological strategies to inspire your design team can be one thing – moving from ideation to developing a product while staying true to the underlying scientific principles and biomimicry framework as well as working within project constraints can be another. My team can help you navigate this process to generate successful outcomes, including planning for short-term quick wins and longer-term product design aspirational goals, for which success may depend on advances in technology.
To be successful, sustainable innovation in the built environment must be based on solutions that are rooted in solving the challenges presented by local environmental factors – water, sunlight, fire, wind, soils. The local ecosystem is a treasure trove of solutions for how to deal with each of these environmental factors in the place of development. To understand and learn from deep patterns and champion adapters in a place, I can develop a Genius of Place report. Once developed, the Genius of Place report provides the foundation for brainstorming and innovation for place-based solutions in workshops and/or design charrettes for any number of vertical or horizontal built environment projects.