Ecoinnovation: Sustainability & Going Green

Where Creativity Can Save the Planet

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery April 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bt25 @ 4:11 am

I was recently introduced to a new field called biomimicry, which I think is an incredible tool for solving problems and changing the way companies do business.  We are lucky here in San Diego because we actually have a Biomimicry Institute affiliated with our world famous zoo.  According to the institute’s website, “Biomimicry is the science and art of emulating Nature’s best biological ideas to solve human problems.”  These ‘problems’ can range from process innovations to product design.  The amazing side benefit of natural process design is that biomimicked products and practices are quite sustainable.

So this is all great in theory, but can biomimicry actually be profitable?

In a word:  Yes.  There have been many advances in materials design linked to biomimicry.  For example, self-cleaning surfaces that mimic the beading of water off certain leaves were recently inspired using biomimicry.  These surfaces have the added benefit of reducing the need for harmful chemical cleaners.  Building design is another area where nature has been inspiring.  Termite mounds use tunnels and venting to keep the temperature cool in their hot, dessert homes.  Architects have used these techniques to do the same–saving the monetary and environmental cost of heating and cooling.

Pax Technologies used biomimicry to design a highly efficient mixing blade. Image of impeller via PAX Scientific, all rights reserved; Image of calla lily via the equinest

Asknature.org is an entire database of natural processes that can serve as inspiration to product design.  Type the word “urban planning”  into the database and an entry pops up describing the usefulness of radiating lines found in sea urchins for city planning.  Radiating lines minimize the distance from the center, facilitating transportation to the outlying points–add branching, similar to the human circulatory system, and you have a highly efficient transportation grid.

I encourage anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit to have a look at some of these websites–you might stumble upon the next big thing.  Just be sure to thank mother nature!

Advertisements
 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s