In recent years, lower impact “green buildings” have crept up in popularity. But a new movement believes that these measures have not gone nearly far enough — that even today’s ecoconscious apartments and offices produce waste and greenhouse gases, while merely scaling back the damage. What we need to do, according to the architects and scientists driving this movement, is fundamentally rethink the concept of a building.
Sometimes called “biomimetic” or “regenerative” architecture, this approach applies insights from nature to the built environment, and seeks to blur the distinction between the two. In some cases, this means mimicking specific functions of organisms or their habitats. In other cases, the emulation is more general: conceiving of buildings as closed-loop ecosystems that, like a forest or a savanna, draw their energy from the elements and produce no net waste — and perhaps even improve the surrounding environment.