Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Biomimicry for Greener Buildings

In a meeting with my work's CEO, he said that "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" as the mantra for green lifestyles has to be replaced with "Rethink, Re-imagine, Redesign" and nothing expresses that better than the Eastgate Centre of Harare, Zimbabwe. I found out about this through a post at Sustainablog, and it is just one of the coolest building green methods I've heard of yet.

The Eastgate Centre was designed by architect Mick Pierce and engineers at Aryup Associates to mimic the HVAC system methodology of African termites. These two quotes will give you the general idea, but you can head on over to Sustainablog for the full post:

If you’ve ever seen a termite mound you should still be impressed by these built by African termites in Zimbabwe. The termites build mounds reaching multiple feet in order to farm a fungus that feeds them. The finicky fungus must live at exactly 87 degrees F. While temperatures outside the mound walls vary by about 70 degrees F, they had a problem to solve. “The termites achieve this remarkable feat by constantly opening and closing a series of heating and cooling vents throughout the mound over the course of the day. With a system of carefully adjusted convection currents, air is sucked in at the lower part of the mound, down into enclosures with muddy walls, and up through a channel to the peak of the termite mound. The industrious termites constantly dig new vents and plug up old ones in order to regulate the temperature,” describes Abigail of Inhabitat.


The complex is made up of two buildings connected by a glass passageway that is open to the fresh air. As air is drawn from this space, fresh air is constantly replacing stale air. Not only is this healthy for the people inside the space, but nature is doing most of the work for us. Using less than 10% of the energy of a conventional HVAC system, this system has saved the owners $3.5 million over the last decade. Tenants also pay about 20% less in rent than surrounding office buildings.
With 50% of climate changing emissions are coming from buildings across the globe. Imagine how much cleaner and healthier we and the world will be when we start using smarter technologies like this in every building. That's gonna be fricken sweet.


Mother Wintermoon said...

I like the replacement slogan! I too wish more builders incorporated smarter technologies like this for apartments, homes, and businesses.

Biomimicry Guild said...

If you are interested in learning more about biomimicry please visit The Biomimicry Institute and The Biomimicry Guild for more information.