We, humans, are at a critical point in human history where there is a need for a new development paradigm. Regenerative design and development is a process, practice, and philosophy. Successful regeneration is to evolve and continually develop new potential. Fifty years ago, forward-thinking designers and planners presented the idea of sustainability with the building community. This concept further had a huge impact on affordable housing in the form of fragmented, wasteful, and a skilled labor shortage.
Sustainability is currently practiced in the built environment and exercises efficiency. It can be derived that the use of an environmental rating system and other mechanisms allow a reduction in the damage caused by the use of resources. The shift from fragmented to the whole is a significant leap that the consumer society needs to make. Furthermore, the thought of sustainability has improvised and evolved – called regeneration or regenerative housing.
Is it making sense? We always want to do more than ‘sustain’ our environment and society. We tend to rebuild our environment, grow, and empower society. In terms of building and affordable housing, we want to build homes that have a net-positive impact on the environment, society, and even the economy. In today’s time, building with a net-zero impact on the environment by minimizing waste and by using efficient energy is a common practice followed.
What is Regenerative design?
By definition, the regenerative design has the ability to create a new and to be born of a new spirit. In practical terms, regeneration means to contribute to the value-generating process of the living systems of which we are apart. Provided the challenges we face today, the design process shall focus on improving the resiliency of living relationships like – ecosystems, human social systems, and families.
The shift in perspectives has the potential to motivate us to go beyond the practice of trying to creating buildings and urban settings to achieve the creation of ‘good’ development. The regenerative design is a principle that contributes to systems that renew or replenish themselves. This ultimately means that the materials and energy that give a product or process can be reintroduced into the same process or system.
“When a building is truly regenerative, it actually contributes to the improvement of the ecosystem.”
Few important points include:
- Understanding the product’s or processes’ relationship to place throughout its life cycle.
- Determine the goals recognizing regenerative capacity.
- Become a partner to place instead of purely extracting from it
- Strive to achieve harmonization between people and places.
We need to inspire people to work on restoring and regenerating the biosphere and tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year.
Limiting the damage, High-performance design: Design that realizes high efficiency and reduced impact in building structures, operations, and site activities. A more technical efficiency approach to design and limit larger natural system benefits.
Neutral, Green design: A general term implying a direction of improvement in design, i.e., progression towards a generalized ideal of harming. Some people think that it is more applicable to buildings and technology.
Sustainable design: ‘Green Design’ with an emphasis on reaching a point where being able to sustain the health of the planet’s organisms and systems.
Living system approaches:
Restoration design: This approach is about restoring the capability of design in terms of natural systems to a healthy state of self-organization.
Reconciliation design: The design process acknowledges that humans are an integral part of nature, and humans to natural systems are one.
Regenerative Design: This design process engages and focuses on evolution if the whole system. It draws and supports continuous learning through feedback, reflection, and dialogue so that all aspects of an integral part of the process of life in that place.
Principles-based on environmental and human well-being:
- Systems thinking and integrating: To avoid sub-optimizing at the component level and instead, it optimizes the whole systems. Changing the scope and outlook of the design team to look for opportunities that benefit the building and, conversely, identify opportunities for building to contribute net benefits.
- Adoption of industrial ecology: The adoption of sustainable buildings through basic notion by-products of some processes can become feedstock for other processes. It expands the pool of potential resources for the building. It can be used to improve the performance of different structures and neighborhood systems like urban water reclamation projects.
- Converting buildings and communities into engines of carbon storage: The carbon stored in wooden structures and wooden-based building materials creates a cache of stored carbon that will last as long as the building. The saved amount of carbon in a building with wooden and other plant-based construction materials is higher than the amount of carbon emitted during construction.
- Empower the building occupants to become building inhabitants: Building occupants are generally passive recipients of the environment created by the design process and are detached from the processes and optimizations of the building systems. In contrast, inhabitants are considered a part of the building ecosystem and have control over their environment, and are encouraged to get involved in operations and optimization efforts.
It is probably wrong if we say that green buildings are not a good design, but elements like triple-glazed, natural ventilation, and low off-gassing carpeting are no longer in the news. In a sense, a sustainable green building is the victim of its own success. The regenerative design aspires to active participation in ecosystems globally.
A sustainable green roof is pleasant for humans and reduces energy consumption while a regenerative green roof is designed for supporting birds and butterflies. Capturing rainwater, recycling greywater, and treating wastewater on-site is great for reducing the overall consumption of water. But in regenerative design, these above strategies are only optimal if they recharge the local aquifer.
Sustainability has given us the foundation, and perhaps it’s got more people thinking and working about the impact humans have on the environment. Regenerative design may end up giving us new dimensions to argue about, but it will contribute to the improvement of the ecosystem.
So, where do we go from here? Well, we can only go to the ‘new green’!
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