Ecosystems Biomimetics: Ecological Systems Diagrams for Characterization of Environmental Performance of Buildings

By Mercedes Garcia-Holguera, Grant Clark, Susan Gaskin and Aaron Sprecher.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Ecosystems biomimetics means learning from ecosystems; that is, learning from complex, resilient, self-organized systems in nature, and transferring valuable ecosystem patterns into the architectural work. However, the methodology is incipient and biomimetic tools have to cross disciplines to convey meaning for both ecology and architecture; so qualitative and quantitative tools need to be developed in order to stimulate the research in the field. In this paper, an ecological engineering tool, the energy systems diagrams as defined by ecologist H. Odum, is used to represent more than 20 sustainable-rated buildings under the light of ecological systems. The buildings selected are certified projects under the LEED, Living Building Challenge or Passive House rating systems, and data has been captured from their organizations web sites. The results show that ecological systems diagrams are powerful and effective instruments for characterization of the environmental performance of buildings in terms of energy and matter use; and that a shared language between disciplines is achievable. The validation of ecological systems diagrams as a useful biomimetic tool gives ground for further research on quantitative instruments to develop a complete methodology of ecosystems biomimetics.

Keywords: Sustainable Architecture, Biomimetics, Construction Ecology

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.147-165. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.543MB).

Mercedes Garcia-Holguera

PhD Student, Bioresource Engineering Department, Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Mercedes Garcia-Holguera was born in Salamanca, Spain and graduated from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, where she studied Architecture. After working for several years in Spain, Chile and Mexico, and receiving a Certificate on Sustainable Architecture and the accreditation as LEED AP, She started her PhD program in 2011 in Bioresource Engineering at McGill University, Canada. Her research work focuses on biomimetics, ecological engineering and regenerative architecture. She is under the supervision of Professor Grant Clark (Bioresource Engineering), Professor Susan Gaskin (Civil Engineering) and Professor Aaron Sprecher (School of Architecture). Mercedes is assessing ecosystem patterns and developing conceptual and quantitative architectural models using ecological engineering tools. Her research will provide the scientific basis for biomimetic and regenerative architecture design.

Grant Clark

McGill University, Canada

Susan Gaskin

McGill University, Canada

Prof. Aaron Sprecher

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering, School of Architecture, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Aaron Sprecher has been an Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture in the Faculty of Engineering at McGill University since 2008. He is co-founder and partner of Open Source Architecture, an international collaborative research group that brings together leading international researchers in the fields of design, engineering, media research, history and theory. He completed his graduate studies at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (Israel) and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). His research and design work focuses on the synergy between information technologies, computational languages and automated digital systems, examining the way in which technology informs and generates innovative approaches to design processes. Beside numerous publications and exhibitions, he has lectured in many institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Cooper Union, and Harvard University. Aaron Sprecher is co-curator and co-editor of the exhibition and publication “The Gen(H)ome Project” (MAK Center, Los Angeles, 2006) and design curator of “Performalism” (Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2008). He is a recipient of research grants, most recently, awarded with the prestigious Canada Foundation for Innovation award and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grants.