“Ecodesign,” Ken Yeang

Goal of seamless and benign integration of design into the biosphere must be the fundamental basis for the design of human made environments

Why biointegration is necessary
Health as humans depends on the health of the environment

Humans are responsible for 99 percent of pollution

Modern industrial modes are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, but fossil fuels are finite. “Inevitably, ecological considerations have to become an integral part of the practice of the design of all of our artifacts, structures and infrastructures.”

“Ecogadget architecture”: an illusory vision of technological salvation.

Environmental integration

A2 Objective of ecodesign
Human purposes meshed with larger flows, patterns, processes

Integrate: source to production to operation to demolition and eventual assimilation into the ecosystem and biospheric processes

Goal is not to simply ameliorate the present rate of environmental impairment but to eliminate it.

Integrate systemically all industrial waste into natural cycles and processes of ecosystems. Then there is no such thing as waste.

Can we integrate temporally (ration and conserve) our rate of energy use with the availability and the natural rates of resource renewal in the biosphere?

Three separate levels of biointegration:
1 Physical
2 Systemic
3 Temporal

Sustainable design, defined: “designing to ensure a society that is able to satisfy its needs without diminishing the chances of future generations”

Oil as a non-renewable energy resource will not last for another FIFTY YEARS.

Impacts in the life-cycle of a design system: manufacture, transportation, construction, eventual reuse, recycle, reintegration.


restore environmental conditions that existed before mass industrial corruption

A3 The basis for ecodesign; the ecodesign concept
The whole earth can be considered an ecological unit, and within it is a system of biological organization.

All ecosystems are open systems, not closed. All connected by flows of energy and materials.

Comprehensive ecological knowledge will “enable the designer to prescribe design solutions based on ecological principles and to design on the basis of the strategy of ecomimesis.”

Ecosystem: Other interpretations include regarding the ecosystem as an energy-processing system the components of which have evolved together for a long period of time as communities of plants and animals, fungi and other organisms, with different degrees and kinds of interdependence among the component species, or simply as a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.

Green belt, or autotrophic layer
Brown belt, or heterotrophic layer.

Structural Components
Inorganic substances
organic substances
Climatic system
Producer organisms, or autotrophic
Consumer organisms, or phagotrophic
Decomposer organisms, or saprotrophic

Energy flow.
The food chains on trophic relationships.
Diversity patterns, spatial and temporal.
Mineral, cycling of nutrients aside from food.
Development and evolution.
Control on cybernetic aspects.

The main reason for the limited length of food chains is that a major part of the energy stored within the plant or animal is lost at each stage in the chain.

Plants are the primary source of food and energy in any ecosystem.

It is the ecosystem’s components (organisms, populations, species, habitats, etc.) processes (nutrient cycling, carbon cycles, ecological succession, etc.) and properties (resilience, health, integrity, etc,) that provide us with a life-supporting environment.

temporal integration: essentially the prudent utilisation of non-renewable and renewable resources at rates less than the natural rate at which they regenerate

process of succession (p. 18)

Indicator species: organism (often a micro-organism or a plant) that serves as a measure of environmental conditions (or ecosystem health) that exist in a given locale

Keystone species: affect ecosystems through such processes as competition, mutualism, dispersal, pollination, and by modifying habitats and abiotic factors. Keystone species usually govern biological diversityin their given habitat.

Edaphic factors: soil nutrients, temperature, moisture level

Natural services provided by ecosystems
Primary productivity: photosynthesis, oxygen production, the removal of CO2 from the air and its fixation into plant materials
Biological control of pests and diseases
Habitat and refuge protection
Water supply, regulation (ie flood control) and purification
Waste recycling and pollution control (by decomposers)
Nutrient cycling
Raw materials production
Soil formation and protection
Ecosystem disturbance regulation
Climate and atmospheric regulation

A4 Ecomimicry
To design based on the principles of natures designs and technologies are superior to our own. Imitate properties, structure, functions and processes of ecosystems in nature.

Principles of ecology to mimic: networks, cycles, solar energy, partnership, diversity, dynamic balance.

In natural systems there is no such thing as waste. Everything is re-assimilated and reintegrated into the ecosystems. Waste is food.

In contrast, 85 percent of the human-made items in our built environment quickly become waste through the manufacturing process.

Slow the throughput of materials in our built environment – design for longevity.

Design for reuse, recycling and remanufacture at the outset.

Species in nature will not utilise their prey species, on food plants, until there is nothing left. Often this is because food becomes more difficult to find as it becomes scarce and animals consequently hunt that which is in greater supply, leaving the old stock to renew itself.

use renewable resources only at the rate at which they can renew themselves
it is obviously not possible for humans to wait for fossil fuels to renew themselves

Ecosystems run entirely on ambient solar energy: free, abundant, infinitely renewable. Nature stores this energy as fossil fuels. Humans use fossil fuels, which, being non-renewable, have a high entropic rate.

1 Ultimately, ecodesign should direct the built to shift to an economy run on current solar energy as in ecosystems.

2 Until this is achievable, ecodesign should be directed towards energy conservation and efficiency where it optimises every unit of energy efficiently out of these non-renewable fuels in all our designed systems.

High structural diversity and spacial efficiency

Ecological diversity is comprised of three main types of diversity
1 Species diversity
2 Genetic diversity
3 Diversity among communities and ecosystems

Ecological design must also be about designing for planned positive and restorative outcomes that will contribute beneficially to the ecosystems. These positive outcomes can include, for instance, improving biodiversity, the creation of pure water, the conservation of local landscapes and ecology, the reduction of consumption of energy resources and greenhouse gas emissions, the reduction of waste and pollution (eg greenhouse gases) and the reduction of the design’s ecological footprint.

Recap of key properties of ecosystems pp 37-38

The theoretical basis for ecological design must provide the designer with an easy-to-apply set of structuring and organising principles. Design to plug-in to human behavior vs. improving people’s behavior with design.

This can be in the form of an open structure with which the selected and relevant design constraints [e.g. ecological considerations can be holistically and simultaneously organised and identified. Furthermore, the open structure must facilitate the selection. Consideration. and eventual incorporation of the design objectives in our subsequent design synthesis.
Program? To strict? Colin Rowe. Does this leave room for innovation? (p. 41)

The theoretical framework of green design
The designed system acts like a living organism; in place of food, it uses energy and materials, and also produces outputs into its environment. Our theoretical structure should therefore model all these exchanges.
Framework must include
1 Description of the built system itself
2 Description of the environment
3 Mapping of the interactions between these two components

Fundamental interactions between built and natural environments can be categorized as follows:
1 External interdependencies: the designed system’s relationship to the external environment
2 Internal interdependencies
3 Internal to external exchanges of energy and matter
4 external to internal exchanges of energy and matter

Matrix provides a check on environmental impact assessments – helps to reduce likelihood that the designer emphasises the importance of a single factor (e.g. pollution) at the expense of another

Ambiguity of article / matrix / program a result of the field as highly adaptive, need for growth; leaves room for growth, reinterpretation

Importance of balance. Framework actually useful? Or way of visualizing need for balance.

Response to concern:
“Yet, while the Partitioned Matrix is a comprehensive framework, it is not programmatic. That is to say, it includes all possible issues but not, for obvious reasons, particular situations and cases. lt can act as the ‘law for ecological design’, but it is the individual designer who has to apply that law. All that can be predicted here is the type of design issue likely to be faced particularly in the area of ecosystem interactions and effects.”

Matrix excludes:
1 Cost
2 Government / political pressures
3 Cultural Mores / resistance
4 Limits of technology

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