From the moment that life formed on the planet, nature has worked to keep the environment in balance. For the past eleven thousand years our climate has remained stable and predictable. However, with the Industrial Revolution human beings have been disrupting the balance that had been formed. Within as little as 250 years we managed to bring our planet out of balance. But we only noticed that when the Earth started fighting back resulting in extreme droughts, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis. We have always been looking to nature for inspiration, which is also known as biomimicry. Would we have thought to fly through the air if we hadn’t watched the birds doing it first? Now It’s time we get back to our roots and turn to nature for inspiration on how to live in harmony with our planet and find sustainable solutions.
Plants, for instance, are solely responsible for life to exist on this planet. Without their ability to produce food from sunlight, clean the air and produce oxygen, animals, like us, would not be able to exist. If we are looking to live sustainably nature provides the perfect template for us to follow. The architect of the Eastgate building in Zimbabwe got inspired by termite mounds. Termite mounds are amazing. They are built in a way that the air is significantly cooler inside than outside. This climate control is done without the need for air conditioning. With this inspiration in mind the Eastgate was built. And it works! It uses 90% less energy than other buildings of the same size. This means less pollution emitted into the atmosphere and significant cost savings for the owners.
It’s not always possible to build a whole new building. However, it’s still possible to use nature to improve existing buildings. Inspired by nature, Oxygen at Work uses plants to improve the air quality in offices. This in turn reduces pollution and enhances the oxygen levels in confined work environments. Most buildings have HVAC systems to take care of this. However, for some factors of air quality they are far less effective and efficient and also use a substantial amount of energy. Using plants as a real sustainable solution allows us to improve employee health as well as achieve energy savings by reducing HVAC system usage.
This is just one example of how we can consciously decide to take the sustainable path, which most of the times is also long term the economically better one. If we continue to shift our perspective and keep our minds open, there is no limit to the problems we can solve by using biomimicry. So, let’s turn more to nature which will guide us to the real sustainable solutions.
Manuel Winter CEMS Alumni 2016 | Co-Founder Oxygen at Work