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Tatiana Fasano

5 Nature-Inspired Innovations. The shifting hues of squid skin, the stickiness of gecko toes, the self-cleansing of lotus leaves.

5 Nature-Inspired Innovations

Understanding these and other natural phenomena can yield not only fascinating biological insights, but also fresh solutions to today’s most pressing environmental challenges. Biomimicry — applying the design of natural systems to human problems — has gained momentum in recent years. Last August, the San Diego Zoo opened its Center for Bioinspiration, which works with companies and research institutions to translate zoo scientists’ findings into practical applications. Taking cues from nature makes sense. Plants and animals have a 3.8 billion year head start on scientists in adapting to natural pressures, whether that involves using sunlight efficiently or keeping cool in hot, arid climates. 1.) 2.) 3.) Biomimetics. One cloudless midsummer day in February, Andrew Parker, an evolutionary biologist, knelt in the baking red sand of the Australian outback just south of Alice Springs and eased the right hind leg of a thorny devil into a dish of water.

Biomimetics

The maneuver was not as risky as it sounds: Though covered with sharp spines, the lizard stood only about an inch high at the shoulder, and it looked up at Parker apprehensively, like a baby dinosaur that had lost its mother. It seemed too cute for its harsh surroundings, home to an alarmingly high percentage of the world's most venomous snakes, including the inland taipan, which can kill a hundred people with an ounce of its venom, and the desert death adder, whose name pretty well says it all.

… proving how technology can live in harmony with nature. Neri OXMAN By JOHN ORTVED | Photography TOM ALLEN Courtesy Imagine a chair that moves when you move, that adjusts to every muscle in your body, that responds like a living organism . . . a chair kind of like a really excellent lover.

… proving how technology can live in harmony with nature.

Neri Oxman imagined such a chair. Then she built it. Michael Pawlyn: Using nature's genius in architecture. Structuring Biomimicry, Improving Building’s Resiliency. The same way Einstein assumes the speed of light to be a constant of reference for his Theory of Relativity, the philosophy of biomimicry assumes Nature as a constant of reference to a performance-based beauty for design.

Structuring Biomimicry, Improving Building’s Resiliency

Imitating nature has become a meaningful approach for contemporary architects and design futurists to the built environment, especially for those who foster a future that doesn’t compete with nature but coexist with it. At the light of recent natural disasters around the world, especially those geologically associated such as tsunamis and earthquakes, which have proven its destruction power over the current built environment; architects and structural engineers have found in biomimicry an ecological approach in order to improve future building’s disaster resilience.

Present built structures are unresponsive to the Earth dynamics and aren’t completely adapted to the ecosystem flows of forces. To Tackle Runoff, Cities Turn to Green Initiatives by Dave Levitan. 24 Jan 2013: Report by dave levitan In Northeast Philadelphia, along busy Kensington Avenue, sits a small park.

To Tackle Runoff, Cities Turn to Green Initiatives by Dave Levitan

What used to be flat ground is now sloping terrain that contains a low-lying area intended to gather and funnel storm water. At the park’s southern end is a depression lined with well-arranged plants — a new landscape carefully engineered to change how water flows through the area. This is Womrath Park, one of a handful of “green infrastructure” projects Philadelphia has begun — with many more to come — aimed at tackling a widespread urban environment problem. “Stormwater runoff is one of the largest water pollution issues facing the U.S. today,” says Larry Levine, a senior attorney in the Natural Resource Defense Council’s water program. View gallery Philadelphia Water Department. Bosco Verticale: The World's First Vertical Forest Nears Completion in Milan. Milan is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and the Bosco Verticale project aims to mitigate some of the environmental damage that has been inflicted upon the city by urbanization.

Bosco Verticale: The World's First Vertical Forest Nears Completion in Milan

The design is made up of two high-density tower blocks with integrated photovoltaic energy systems and trees and vegetation planted on the facade. The plants help capture CO2 and dust in the air, reduce the need to mechanically heat and cool the tower’s apartments, and help mitigate the area’s urban heat island effect – particularly during the summer when temperatures can reach over 100 degrees.

The two towers measure 260 feet and 367 feet tall respectively, and together they have the capacity to hold 480 big and medium size trees, 250 small size trees, 11,000 ground-cover plants and 5,000 shrubs (that’s the equivalent of 2.5 acres of forest). Biomimicry in Green Building: Nature in Sustainable Building Technologies. Biomimicry, the method of using concepts from nature to solve problems, is becoming a popular trend in green building and clean tech.

Biomimicry in Green Building: Nature in Sustainable Building Technologies

As stated by Janine Benyus in her 2002 book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, “the Biomimicry Revolution introduces an era based not on what we can extract from nature, but what we can learn from her”. Thanks to evolution and survival of the fittest, nature is extremely efficient - organisms (possibly with the exception of humans) use minimal energy to perform functions essential to their livelihood. Researchers are studying these strategies and copying them to produce more effective, energy efficient technologies for powering, heating, and cooling our buildings. Michael Pawlyn: Using nature's genius in architecture.