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What If Buildings Could Be Designed to Make a Positive Contribution to the Environment?

on June 12, 2020 at 11:36 am under , , , , ,
Photo: Perkins+Will

Can Regenerative Design Save the Planet?

In nature, whole ecosystems thrive through intricate and efficient systems of interdependence. Every organism contributes and takes as much as it gives. Nothing goes to waste — every organism, from the massive to the miniscule, takes as much as it gives and contributes to the cycle of life and death to sustain the whole. For millions of years, nature has sustained itself elegantly by design.

This circular economy is the essence of regenerative design. It forces us to think outside of the current linear framework: if we keep using nature just as a resource, it will inevitably run out. We have to realize our role as participants in a global ecosystem, and design our lives to adapt with the biological cycle of the environment we belong to.

Regenerative design is not simply about being “green” or “nature-friendly.” Regenerative design ensures that it actively contributes and gives back to the ecology from whence it came. Author Anthony Flint describes it well in a CITYLAB post: “A green roof is pleasant for humans and reduces energy consumption in the building underneath; a regenerative green roof not only does that but is intentionally designed to support butterflies or birds that have otherwise vacated an urban area.”

“Trajectory of Ecological Design” by Regenesis Group.

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre

A great study on regenerative design is the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre in Vancouver. A modern marvel of architecture, the Centre “delicately balances architecture and landscape, integrating natural and human systems in meaningful ways to support biodiversity and ecological balance within the site.” It achieves carbon-neutrality by using local, natural materials like wood, it harnesses renewable resources for power, and it utilizes state-of-the art design inspired by nature to maximize form and function. It is a shining example of how designers should approach development to be able to avert the climate crisis hole that we have dug ourselves into.


For additional information about Regenerative Design, read a post from Ramana Koti, BEMP, LEED AP BD+C, Associate responsible for Building Performance Analysis at Lord Aeck Sargent, titled “Green Roofs and Regenerative Design.”

Read more: The Future is Now: The Case for Regenerative Design



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