Blog 3

This weeks classes revolved around the discussion of industrial ecology. We heard a TED Talk with Michael Pawlyn on how we can use nature and biology as a resource for architecture. I thought the structure made out of polymers was very interesting, especially how the weight of the air inside was less than the actual structure. His ideas reminded me of the TED Talk with Jenine Benyus on biomimicry. I am sensing an overall theme in this class revolving around how we can use nature as a design tool to create a more sustainable future. The whole point of industrial ecology is to eliminate waste, which Pawlyn and Benyus both discuss. Using waste as a resource was one of the ten commandments of industrial ecology proposed by Benyus. I was intrigued by the example of the eco-park in Denmark. In short, these three companies are using their waste to power each other and the town and it is all one big sustainable circle of life where everything is running off of waste. Another two of the ten commandments of industrial ecology were gather and use energy efficiently and don’t draw down resources. I think these two are ones that we could all work on. We need to focus on saving energy and not using resources when we do not need them so that we do not waste energy and resources. It was interesting to hear more about these commandments and industrial ecology from the presentations in class. I learned that we should try to be more like a forest in the fact that it regenerates itself and its waste just goes back into the ecosystem. It will be interesting to see how this affects the class in our everyday lives. I know that I personally need to try harder to recycle because I often do not. However, I am good at saving energy because I am always trying to use natural light or solar light over electricity (mainly because it saves me money, but also because I prefer it). As a person who loves natural light, my favorite of the 5 principles we learned was to mimic nature’s process. For example if more people utilized natural light, like how plants gain energy from the sun, rather than electricity than we could save so much energy. Another aspect of industrial ecology concept we discussed in class was cradle to cradle in which a product is designed to function efficiently while at the same time designed to be broken down at the end of it’s lifecycle so that EVERY part can be up-cycled or repurposed. When things are cradle to cradle rather than the traditional process of cradle to grave, we can eliminate waste. Although we didn’t complete the activity yet, my group came up with some very interesting cradle to cradle ideas for our waste=food store display. We discussed designing a display made up of things from nature such as flowers and greenery or completely out of recyclables. I do not know which plan we will go with yet, but I am excited to see what we can come up with for this activity.

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