Growing Buildings Using Atmospheric Carbon
My approach to helping address climate change and wellness challenges integrates behavioral sciences, design thinking, biomimicry, and meditation. In this post, I want to explore and summarize some key points about what a biomimetic approach (emulating nature) to climate change would look like, and close with a new approach that is innovative and inspiring.
Based on my earlier post in Asking Nature, one important step is to change our behavior, including our diet, to lower our greenhouse gas footprint sizably. Eating a plant-based diet is more efficient, more affordable, and has substantial social justice and wellness and productivity benefits. Workplace engagement can also benefit from biomimicry through stronger communication and relationship-building guidance, as well as social innovation, including cooperation. Biomimicry is also shifting businesses to be more sustainable, is well known in material science and architecture, and is being applied for creating innovative, low-impact cities.
From a biomimicry perspective, the current alarmingly high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means nature would find a way to “eat” or use them up. One example, from biomimicry and architecture professional Michael Pawlyn, is marine microorganisms that use atmospheric carbon dioxide to build their skeletons, which, when they die, decompose into limestone, effectively sequestering carbon dioxide.
Inspired by this example, the BioRock Pavilion projects aims to “grow” a whole building using atmospheric carbon and a process called electro-deposition, in seawater. Inspiring, and certainly a more exciting option than harmful geoengineering approaches.
Another insight Pawlyn emphasizes is the storytelling approach of biomimicry: beginning with an inspiring story of how an organism solves a problem, then applying that case to a current human predicament. We know that stories move us, and this is a practical way to face climate change in a more hopeful way rather than get caught up in the doom and gloom. It also helps us be more humble and open our minds to learning from nature.
I love biomimicry for many reasons, and have just finished a second recipe book that follows biomimicry principles such as adaptation, resource efficiency, and evolution for survival (I prefer eating to thrive) – the book takes advantage of opportunities for making a difference in wellness and climate change simultaneously – stay tuned for the launch. In the meantime, share with me how biomimicry inspires you!