Wild problems call for wild solutions

Nanotech InspirationImage by Kevin Krejci via FlickrOften as a designer, it is easy to do things the same way over and over again (often without thinking). The environmental and social problems that we face, however, can’t be solved without some radical change in how we do things. For this reason, I have been promoting the AskNature.org website at our latest BIMbc user group meetings. The site is a project of the Biomimicry Institute, well in line with the work of Janine Benyus. Be sure to check out her TED talk if you’ve never heard of Biomimicry.

The basic premise of this site, and Biomimicry in general, is that for every engineering or design challenge that we face today, nature has already found a solution. Nature doesn’t have easy access to bulldozers, pumps or other energy intensive solutions, but it still gets the work done rather elegantly. More importantly, when it does, it rarely produces the harmful by-products that our usual solutions create.

The way the site works is you enter a question in the search bar such as: “How would nature stay cool?” The site then returns a list of strategies used in the natural world that describes in detail the design principles, chemistry or physics of how an organism in nature solves the given problem. After understanding the different strategies, all you have to do is adapt the strategy to your own project.

This goes well beyond LEED, which unfortunately is what we often end up talking about when discussing green buildings. At least here in Vancouver people are now beginning to talk more about the Living Building Challenge. Anyways, check AskNature.org out and share with everyone!

Edwin Guerra


Edwin is a BIM Consultant focusing on Building Performance and Structural Design with Summit Technologies, a leading provider of BIM consulting services based in Vancouver, BC. Edwin’s extensive knowledge of Revit, Dynamo, Navisworks, Bluebeam, Ecotect, Green Building Studio and Autodesk Vasari, is complemented by a passion for Green Building Design.

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