UPCOMING EVENTS: Designing for Hope Lectures

We are entering a time when many tipping points will be passed, resulting in unexpected consequences. Yet, a growing group sees opportunity and the potential of thriving cities and environments. Based on the book, Designing for Hope: Pathways to Regenerative Sustainability, Dominique and Joel will convey a beneficial way of re-imagining design and development. Designing for Hope contends that we can actively create a positive and abundant future through a living systems-based worldview. The presentation will pose questions such as: ‘How can projects focus on creating a positive eco-footprint and contribute to community?’, ‘How does design focus hope and create a positive legacy?’, and ‘If nature is the master designer, what are the lessons we can gain from looking at her patterns and processes?’ Dominique and Joel’s work are recognized by leaders in the movements of Regenerative Development, Sustainable Cities, Biophilic Design, Biomimicry, Permaculture, and Positive Development.

Designing for Hope Lecture in Denver

Lecture featuring Dr. Dominique Hes
Wednesday, March 25th
5:30pm-7:30pmThe Alliance Center
1536 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202

While the lecture is free, registration is required. Space is limited.
>>Register Here<<

Patterns for a Hopeful Future Lecture in Fort Collins

Lecture featuring Dr. Dominique Hes and Joel Glanzberg
Thursday, March 26th
6:00-8:00pm
New Belgium Brewing Company, Tasting Room500 Linden St., Fort Collins, CO 80524

While the lecture is free, registration is required. Space is limited.
>>Register Here<<

Dr. Dominique Hesis a professor of Architecture at Melbourne University. She has long been asking why, after decades of people working on being ‘sustainable’, we are increasingly degrading the environment? With degrees in Botany, Engineering and Architecture, she brings a multidisciplinary perspective. Dominique uses story, examples and case studies to demonstrate that new solutions are already being put into practice.
Joel Glanzberg (Fort Collins event only) is a founding partner of Regenesis Collaborative, which integrates permaculture and Living Systems technologies. His work with the Tracking Project provides another approach to understanding and working with patterns and the natural world, as well as techniques for accessing the minds required. Integrating these three ways of looking, thinking, and working has been the focus of Joel’s work over the last 10 years. The result is the unique approach he calls Pattern Mind.
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Food Waste Decomposition Systems

By: Cassandra Kliewer | Sustainable Associate
Josie Plaut | Associate Dirtector

 

Food Waste

In 2010, America wasted an estimated 34 million tons of food and only about 3% of that waste was diverted from landfills. Food
digesters, which turn food waste into compost and gray water, are especially well-suited for large commercial kitchens like those found in hospitals and university campuses. Instead of putting food waste into landfills, food digesters turn waste food, into new soil and reduce the burden on municipal waste water treatment facilities.  Two waste audit studies, conducted by The Institute for The Built Environment for Rocky Mountain National Park, show that between 16-30% of the park’s waste, by weight, is food waste.

Food Digesters

Food digesters can either work with or without water. Both systems use an additive to accelerate the process of decomposition. Normally, the decomposing process would take a month, but instead the additive processes the food in 24 hours. The water-based process produces compost and gray water, which is water that is similar to the waste water from sinks and showers.  In a building that is connected to a municipal waste water treatment facility, gray water is easily treatable by the municipal waste water systems.  Gray water can also be treated on site and used for things like landscape irrigation.  Conversely, the dry system is evaporation-based and food waste is mixed with a decomposing additive. Both systems provide easy and sustainable solutions to landfill waste.
Food digesting systems produce nutrient rich material that can be used as compost to fertilize soil for landscapes. Since the dry system can digest food within 24 hours, a rapid source of compost for landscaping is readily available. If the building does not need compost, the facility can reach out to the community and provide compost for landscaping purposes elsewhere. Another benefit of having a food
digester is that it reduces the amount (and cost) of waste that would normally go to a landfill. Since food waste is composted on site with a food digester, there is also a benefit to reduced transportation cost and emissions.  In addition to saving dollars and emissions, and perhaps most importantly, wasted food is kept in the nutrient cycle to rebuild soil and is kept out of landfills where it contributes to methane gas production.

The Future of Food Waste

Various government officials have noticed the impact of food waste and are taken measures against food waste.  Massachusetts has taken measures to ban food waste from big food wasters (schools, hospitals, grocery stores, etc.) in favor of more sustainable options such as composting and using waste food as animal feed.  The ban aims to reduce landfill waste and improve soil health by prohibiting businesses from throwing-away leftovers into landfills.  Vermont and Connecticut have similar legislation in place.  The future where we universally turn leftovers into soil amendment, may be just around the corner!

Using Biomimicry in Sustainable Design

By: Cassandra Kliewer
Sustainable Associate

Nature is the best learning tool. After generations and generations of improvement, nature has perfected itself to work best with its environment. Taking a closer look at an organism and the way it operates can inspire design. Janine Benyus, a biologist in the biomimicry world spoke about the innovative technologies inspired by nature: “learning about the natural world is one thing, learning from the natural world, that’s the switch.”

Biomimicry is designing technologies based upon natures’ sustainable strategies. When biomimicry is applied to design, efficiencies in energy, materials, and space are conserved. The people inventing these efficient designs range from professionals in the field, to students aiming to improve technology. In an effort to engage youth in the biomimicry community, Biomimicry 3.8 has created a competition for the best design inspired by nature.

Youth around the world have entered the challenge to design efficient technologies. The concepts in the challenge were inspired by their region-specific issues and applied natures’ efficiencies to create new technologies. Students from McGill University of Montreal, Canada addressed the problems related to cargo ships transporting organisms by inventing an air ballast system. Since cargo ships transport a lot of weight ballasting water was created to help a cargo boat stay afloat. Water is added when there is no cargo, and when there is cargo the water is released. The transfer of water to different bodies of water introduces non-region specific species. If the species is introduced to a region where it would thrive, it would become invasive and thus disrupt the ecosystem. The team from McGill proposed to replace the water with air. Filling the ballast tanks with air when the ship has cargo, and emptying the tanks when the ship is empty will replace the need for water. This design was inspired by the cuttlefishes’ ability to control buoyancy. Another team in Yucatan, Mexico designed a stable form of transportation. The alternative before this design was working tricycles which were unstable and inefficient. After study snakes movements, the team designed a quadricycle that operates via hand steering movements. At the Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) we strive to create efficiencies in construction to preserve the beauty of this planet. By using the U.S. Green Building Council rating system, IBE applies biomimicry technologies to construction projects. With construction comes options for implementation of new technologies. Everywhere you look in nature you can see efficiencies that have been improved over generations and generations. Some of the greatest inventions have been inspired by nature.

TEDx FrontRange: ELEVATE!

Josie Plaut

The theme this year for Tedx FrontRange is “Elevate.” In the spirit of the pioneering west, a group of fun and engaging speakers (and performers!) will share the ways that they are exploring new frontiers, guiding and inspiring others, and driving innovation.  IBE’s Associate Director, Josie Plaut, will share her ideas on how to go beyond notion of sustainably and toward future that is powered through regeneration.  Simply stated, regeneration is about investing in our future by creating and restoring natural, social and economic capital.  We achieve this through expanding health, vitality and equity in our personal and professional lives.

Date: May 31, 2013, 1-5pm
Location: Rialto Theater Center, Loveland, CO

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More on regeneration….

In recent years, the green industry has introduced a myriad of new tools, products, and standards that help to reduce environmental impacts and encourage more sustainable practices – important steps in the right direction.  Unfortunately, current economic models still rely heavily on depleting natural capital.  Further, the burden to process, manufacture, and sell products is often at the expense of human health and wellbeing.  Here, at a pivotal moment in society, we have the opportunity to change course.  If we are to solve the looming environmental and social crises in time, we must move from using less to creating more. Regeneration is the practice of aligning human activities to give new life, strength and vigor to natural, social, and economic systems. It goes beyond green or sustainable thinking, generally focused on reducing harm, toward a model built on renewal and revitalization.

Regeneration means rebuilding depleted ecosystems, like the Mississippi river delta, or simply riding your bicycle.  It can be a vitalizing urban redevelopment project or the renewal of soils and farming practices in your own garden. Regeneration has many faces, but one purpose: finding what’s broken and creating solutions that are additive, positive and contributive. By shifting mindsets from sustainability to regeneration, we can secure a thriving future for many generations to come.  This paradigm shift is not only necessary, but it is inspiring, refreshing and positive.