Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is the discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. “Innovation inspired by nature”, as #Biomimicry Institute calls it. The idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are struggling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth. Nature is 100% productive. Everything happens for a reason, and nothing is wasted. Once upon a time, humans were part of this perfect eco-system. Somehow, with all invention and innovation, we seem to have forgotten how to positively contribute to the perfect eco-system. As humans we are only 30% productive, and consequently are slowing nature down (think: melting ice caps and destroyed rain forests) until one day it’ll come to a grinding halt.
If we are truly on such path of destruction, what means do we have to our disposal to help us get out of this mess? In product development (e.g. Velcro) and architecture (e.g. natural cooling), we already see great efforts to mimic nature for improved efficiencies. The key is to optimize and manage the lifecycle of everything around us—perfecting the flow of people, water, electrons, materials, and other natural resources. To do this, we need to have a way to monitor, manage, and control this flows, and through natural behaviors and analytics drive continuous optimization into the process. Information Technology [one of the latest innovations that may have further removed us from the perfect eco lifecycle] can now possibly be used in our advantage. As we live in a connected world, IT provides us the means to do this monitoring, managing, and controlling of flows. Will we ever get back to 100% productivity? We may simply have to!
A great new video was posted on YouTube that shows the world in transition. http://youtu.be/Rm19GOndDWo. In parts of the world today, people have access to technology before they have access to quality water and electricity. More people; more bandwidth (and the need thereof); more communications devices (e.g smart phones and tablets)…Cisco estimates that the number of devices connected to the Internet in 2020 could potentially reach 1 trillion – driven by sensors on buildings, smart meters, livestock, even your toilet can be connected providing you with a daily health update. This connected fabric of networks and devices allow us to increase productivity; enable new business models and services; and to address the environmental challenges more effectively. The global building stock today tends to not contribute effectively to any of these inflections: they are not productive (underutilized), don’t allow for new and innovative services to accommodate the rapid changing needs of its users (the millennial generation gap), and large contributors to green house gas emissions and environmental inefficiencies (30 – 40% of energy consumption).
In today’s connected world, however, this is changing. For the longest time we’ve talked about “intelligent buildings”, but it merely meant more automation in building systems. The notion of connectivity and IP standardization is taking “intelligent buildings” to whole new levels. Real Estate (together WITH information technology) becomes the new platform for innovative services to building users, optimization of space utilization and worker productivity, and for enhanced management, monitoring, and control of all environmental components (not just heating and lighting; but also how the buildings are used and interact with the people and its environment). Smart + Connected Real Estate assumes one converged IP infrastructure as the new utility in buildings that now becomes the platform for heating, cooling, lighting, elevators, meters, security, energy, telephony, business video, mobility, etc. In the connected world where 1 trillion devices will speak the same language and communicate over IP networks, we can even further advance the value and benefits for everyone involved in buildings.
Until recently (and unfortunately mainly still), the “unknown” of this transformation prevented building architects, engineers, developers, and owners to embrace this new thinking of IP-enabled sustainable real estate. Well, this is changing also. I am proud to be part of a strong and rapid growing Canadian eco-system of industry partners that are seeing the opportunities and have dealt with the challenges. In the last few weeks alone, we’ve seen some great milestones where we have demonstrated that (a) converged IP infrastructures versus the traditional many silos is CHEAPER. Depending the use cases we’ve seen savings of 3 – 10% on the low-voltage package. (b) IP edge devices are readily available to round out the cost-effective and future-ready solution for 21st Century buildings. (c) the partner eco-system has build capabilities to now effectively design, implement and manage the new dream of Smart + Connected Real Estate. At Cisco’s Networkers Solution Forum in Toronto this week we have showcased several of our partners and demonstrated the ease and value of IP connected buildings. I look forward to blog about those buildings that we are collaborating on and will open their doors in the next few months. Big things are happening. Stop the status quo. Let’s make it right (copyright from our great partner Mike Holmes and Holmes Group) TOGETHER.