This is an engineering challenge that looks to nature for inspiration for solutions for sustainable engineering solutions.
The challenge is to develop a product or system that addresses sustainable use of materials, reduces energy and water consumption and is resilient to natural disasters. This project brief is to look to nature for inspiration and propose an engineering solution that will result in increased performance on sustainability and human-well-being indicators.
The challenge is not limited to buildings but to any other type of product or technology. Nature can be the source of many innovations and inspire engineers to develop products and ideas that are innovative and sustainable and reduce energy and resources use and are consistent with the theme of World Engineering Day 2022 to Build Back Wiser – Engineering the Future.
The Challenge addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goal 9
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
A functioning and resilient infrastructure is the foundation of every successful community. To meet future challenges, our industries and infrastructure must be upgraded. For this, we need to promote innovative sustainable technologies and ensure equal and universal access to information and financial markets. This will bring prosperity, create jobs and make sure that we build stable and prosperous societies across the globe.
Engineers and practitioners in related disciplines can often find inspiration in the world around us. Consider infrastructure projects around the world which are designed to reflect the environmental context in which they are located, with the end result being a solution that is embedded in and inspired by the natural environment. Think about passive-building design principles which draw inspiration from nature, such as building cooling systems that are based on cooling systems in termite mounds. These designs leave small carbon footprints, i.e. low energy demand to maintain building comfort.
Regenerative design and development principles can also be used to choose solutions, designs, materials or systems that have created a positive environmental impact.
However, when considering innovative infrastructure projects, engineers can sometimes find there are trade-offs to negotiate. For example, while communities can meaningfully benefit from celebrating our culture and history through heritage buildings, this can come into conflict with the demands of increasing energy efficiency and reducing impacts on the environment. What might an engineer do if presented with a highly-energy and water efficient building design proposal, which will knock down an existing heritage building?