ince 1993, green building design has generally been defined by the LEED standard. But the concepts of ecosystem services, natural design, and biomimicry are now challenging developers to put natural principles into practice. Today, we take a look at the building sector with an organization that’s taking green building certification to a new level with the concept of natural design to create living buildings. To learn more, we spoke with the International Living Future Institute’s Outreach Director Kay Kosa and Washington DC architectural designer Cory Estep.
Climate resiliency and adaptation is a key concept now for businesses and governments dealing with the threat of natural disasters from extreme weather and how to manage the related risks. The principles of natural design, ecosystem services, and natural capital are ways to put resiliency into action. Whether it’s a building design, a business model, or a community infrastructure plan, the act of working with nature rather than against it is increasingly seen as a wise planning decision and a good investment.
How do we use natural design principles in a practical way to develop resilience in buildings? Some groups are going beyond the traditional definitions of green building and moving into what is called regenerative design.
At the International Living Future Institute, the Living Building Challenge asks building designers to develop structures through the process of biomimicry. The concept of biomimicry essentially follows nature’s design solutions. Biomimicry recognizes that over billions of years of evolution, nature has performed, in its own way, unprecedented research and development on the best way to achieve energy and resource efficiency. This vast reservoir of natural intelligence offered by the animal and plant kingdoms is seen as a resource to be emulated.
The International Living Future Institute offers green building and infrastructure solutions that move across scales (from single room renovations to neighborhoods or whole cities). The Institute offers global strategies for lasting sustainability, partnering with local communities to create grounded and relevant solutions, and reaching out to individuals to unleash their imagination and innovation.
Through the Living Building Challenge and other programs, the Institute has helped to redefine the green building movement, substantially raising the bar for true sustainability. By embracing the psychology of the endgame, the Institute strives to identify the most direct path to a future in which all life can thrive. They seek partnerships with leaders in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in pursuit of a future that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.