A Systems Science Approach to Building Sustainable Low-Carbon Economies

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A very clear scientific message has emerged from the work over the past decade on climate science and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions: reduce the environmental burden by roughly 90% in 3 – 4 decades. This target requires a complete ‘reboot’ of how energy and economic systems are envisioned and implemented. Beyond a needed tighter relationship between life-cycle energy costs and benefits, and beyond an also necessary true integration of social science and behavioral research,  the social and environmental impacts of energy systems must become the crux of the development and deployment process.  To do this, working examples at all scales will be needed.  In this talk, we explore viable, transformative examples of this reconfiguration from household to national and regional scale.

How Buildings That Imitate Earth’s Creatures Could Save Us From Ourselves | Haiti

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Ultimately, the goal is to shift our designers’ perspectives from self to place. HOK’s team used this approach while working with biologists at Biomimicry 3.8 on an urban commercial center in Brazil. This project had a glass building facade outfitted with slanted blades offering shade from the sun. We wanted to develop a system that, like the Brazilian rainforest, would reject heat while returning water to the atmosphere. When we realized that changing the horizontal blades to spirals would atomize cascading water, sending it back into the surrounding environment, it dawned on me: the building could reject heat and conserve water. This multifunctional capability is ever-present in nature but often ignored or even rejected in our compartmentalized world.

“Sustainability Experimentation Venture Network” (SEVeN)

PastedGraphic-3 Humans have been adapting to changing environments since inception. Environmental changes were generally slow on a geological time scale, making oral traditions sufficient for transferring knowledge about successful adaptation experiments. Anthropogenic climate change is occurring faster than the best predictions of even just three years ago. Adaptation, therefore, must be swift. Yet no formal, systematic mechanism exists for documenting and aggregating the results of both failed and successful adaptation experiments. Nor does a mechanism exist, for disseminating this knowledge. This talk will introduce the Sustainability Experimentation Venture Network (SEVeN), a concept for producing, aggregating and disseminating knowledge related to sustainability experimentation broadly and climate adaptation specifically. The talk will engage the audience in a collaborative process of identifying the ideal parameters for SEVeN. For example, what qualifies as a “sustainability experiment?” What is the ideal scale of the sustainability experiments that should be documented? What are the key variables for which data should be collected (e.g., cost, speed of implementation, level of technical knowledge required, etc.)?

A Systems Science Approach to Building Sustainable Low-Carbon Economies

A very clear scientific message has emerged from the work over the past decade on climate science and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions: reduce the environmental burden by roughly 90% in 3 – 4 decades. This target requires a complete ‘reboot’ of how energy and economic systems are envisioned and implemented. Beyond a needed tighter relationship between life-cycle energy costs and benefits, and beyond an also necessary true integration of social science and behavioral research,  the social and environmental impacts of energy systems must become the crux of the development and deployment process.  To do this, working examples at all scales will be needed.  In this talk, we explore viable, transformative examples of this reconfiguration from household to national and regional scale.