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Tool BoxBiomimetics/Biomimicry

Biomimetics (also called Biomimicry) is a relatively new area of science and engineering. It is cross-disciplinary. Biomimetics is comprised of two elements:

  • The study nature's models, systems, processes and elements
  • Designing human products and processes that imitate or mimic nature, to solve human problems sustainably.

The Dictionary of Sustainable Management defines biomimicry as “Applying lessons learned from the study of natural methods and systems to the design of technology”.

For additional information regarding Biomimetics/Biomimicry, contact Sustainability Team member:


Benyus’ Nine Principles of Biomimicry:

1. Nature runs on sunlight
2. Nature uses only the energy it needs
3. Nature fits form to function
4. Nature recycles everything
5. Nature rewards cooperation
6. Nature banks on diversity
7. Nature demands local expertise
8. Nature curbs excesses from within
9. Nature taps the power of limits


Biomimetics along with Industrial Ecology and Life Cycle Analysis, may be the core of the re-design of our production infrastructure.


Biomimetics Resources

  • Center for Biomimetrics
    The Center has definitions, examples, publications and projects related to designing from nature.

  • National Center for Design of Biomimetic Nanoconductors
    The Center has focused on the construct that we call the functional protocell or, more frequently, just protocell. Like a biological cell, it is surrounded by a membrane that contains lipids and proteins. Like a biological cell, it contains a solution inside comprised of water and solutes, which may be ions or molecules. By varying the contents of the protocell interior, and by varying the chemical composition of the surface membrane, the protocell may acquire a great variety of properties, just as biological cells have various properties based on the same kind of variation.

  • The Swedish Center for Biomimetic Fiber Engineering
    The Swedish Center for Biomimetic Fiber Engineering (Biomime™) is a multidisciplinary Center of Excellence with cutting edge expertise at every level of the formation, modification and industrial utilization of wood, fibers and their constituent polymers. Our Mission is the understanding of the structure, self-assembly, and properties of complex plant cell walls in order to use the cell wall as a bioinspired model for advanced materials design. Mimicry of the natural self-assembly of cell wall macromolecules has a high potential to contribute to the future development of intelligent nanomaterials.

  • Biomimetics – Learning From Nature
    This is an 8-page PDF by Thomas Hesselberg of the University of Bath’s Mechanical Engineering Department.

  • Biomimetic Architecture
    This site offers a TED Talk lecture with Jeffrey West on biomimicry. It also provides examples of biomimicry used in design.

  • Biomimetics: Technology Imitates Nature
    At this web site, download the entire book or individual chapters.

  • Introduction from the World Changing site

  • Biomimetics: Design by Nature
    What has fins like a whale, skin like a lizard, and eyes like a moth? The future of engineering. Tom Mueller. National Geographic Magazine, April 2007.

  • "Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature"
    Janine M. Benyus, 1997. (Available for purchase)
    This discipline is primarily a private sector endeavor, and often involves research labs that are private, and sometimes, public.

    • Janine M. Benyus
      Author's website

    • Biomimicry Guild
      The guild helps innovators design sustainable products and processes that create conditions conducive to all life.

    • Biomimicry Institute
      A not-for-profit organization whose mission is to nurture and grow a global community of people who are learning from, emulating, and conserving life's genius to create a healthier, more sustainable planet.

    • Biomimicry Institute Introduction
      Explanation of biomimicry

    • Twelve Sustainable Design Ideas From Nature
      A 24 minute TED video presentation in Monterey, California (February 2005) by Janine Benyus entitled “Bimimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”.

  • Bioinspiration & Biomimetics:
    Learning from nature
    A professional journal.

  • Termite Mounds Inspire Design of Zimbabwe Office Complex
    African office complex inspired by termite engineering.

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