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Can Biomimicry Be a Useful Tool for Design for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation?

Abstract

As professionals of the built environment need to solve more urgent and difficult problems related to mitigating and adapting to climate change, it may be useful to examine examples of how the same problems have been solved by other living organisms or ecosystems. Looking to plants or animals that are highly adaptable or ones that survive in extreme climates or through climatic changes may provide insights into how buildings could or should function. Examining the qualities of ecosystems that enable them to be adaptable and resilient may also offer potential avenues to follow. This chapter examines whether biomimicry, where organisms or ecosystems are mimicked in human design, can be an effective means to either mitigate the causes of climate change the built environment is responsible for, or to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Different biomimetic approaches to design are discussed and categorised, and a series of case study examples illustrate the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. In light of the conclusions reached during the course of the research, it is argued that design that mimics ecosystems and utilises synergies between mitigation and adaptation strategies in relation to climate change could be a beneficial long-term biomimetic built environment response to climate change. The foundations of the theory to support this are also presented.

Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Ecosystem Service
  • Wind Turbine
  • Climate Change Impact
  • Climate Change Adaptation

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Although this is a common mitigation strategy in the context of the built environment (Reisinger et al. 2011) it is not necessarily advocated as a suitable solution in all contexts. There is growing evidence that increasing the density of cities may not actually contribute to mitigating the causes of climate change and that it negatively affects several other environmental performance aspects of cities, such as flood risk, storm water issues, habitat provision, building energy efficiency, and energy generation potentials (see: Pedersen Zari 2012, Sect. 1.3.2.1).

  2. 2.

    The Bionic Car is also referred to as the ‘Mercedes Bionic Car’ (Pawlyn 2011, p. 5). Mercedes Benz is part of the DaimlerChrysler group.

  3. 3.

    For examples of this see Pawlyn (2011).

  4. 4.

    The building generates much of its own energy through wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and co-generation (Tan 2007).

  5. 5.

    Both The Gauge and Workplace6 hold two 6 Green Star ratings, one based on the design and one ‘as built’. This means estimations of performance given above are based on the building after construction, not just on the design. Values, however, are still based on simulations rather than measured performance. Bond (2010) discusses some of the issues between estimations given by simulations and actual measured performance that can lead to quite different results. Performance estimates given above should therefore be treated with caution.

  6. 6.

    See also the work of the Australian Artificial Photosynthesis Network (AAPN).

  7. 7.

    Radiosynthesis refers to the process of melanin in micro-organisms capturing high-energy electromagnetic radiation to generate metabolic energy (Gebeschuber et al. 2009).

  8. 8.

    Compressive strength data is available on the Calera website: http://calera.com/ (accessed May 2014).

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Acknowledgments

This research is based in part on earlier published paper: M. Pedersen Zari (2010), Biomimetic design for climate change adaptation and mitigation, Architectural Science Review, 53(2), pp. 172–183. It is revised, expanded and updated.

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Pedersen Zari, M. (2015). Can Biomimicry Be a Useful Tool for Design for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation?. In: Pacheco Torgal, F., Labrincha, J., Diamanti, M., Yu, CP., Lee, H. (eds) Biotechnologies and Biomimetics for Civil Engineering. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-09287-4_4

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