How does the Ecologic Design Lab arrive at innovative design solutions ?

The process of ecomimicry provides designers with an unlimited pool of inspirations that already exist in our natural environment. When faced with a particular design goal we research precedents set by natural systems and we use this knowledge to arrive at innovative solutions.

The Ecologic Design Lab arrives at these ecomimetic, innovative design solutions, by engaging a collaborative design team from a range of different programs :

  1. Inter-disciplinary Design Team: The Ecologic Design Lab staff and associates consists of architects, landscape designers, ecological designers, artists, teachers, biologists, and builders. When faced with a design challenge requiring innovation our solutions are vetted by these professionals in their respective disciplines to ensure a holistic and lasting solution.
  2. Internship Program : We invite students from our courses at Monterey Peninsula College and University of California Santa Cruz as well as others interested in an intership program with us, to do research and arrive at innovative design solutions. Interns provide a fresh look at old problems and enhance the design process with their inherent knowledge of the field and common sense.
  3. Partnership with Non-profit Research Organizations : In particular our partnership with the non-profit organization Realitree : ecology and architecture allows us to fund research in areas that have yet been untapped and neglected. Areas of focus include using natural building techniques in seismically active areas such as California, developing curricula for Sustainable educational purposes, generating sustainability plans for residential and commercial applications.

Perhaps the most important tool and theory that Ecologic design uses to make decisions is the “system to environment interactions matrix” or “decision-making matrix”. Design decisions in an Ecologic context has a network of implications and influences. An Ecologic Design distinguishes itself by looking at a holistic network of options and comparing them according to their efficiency and efficacy.

Below is an example of such a decision making matrix prepared by Brent Bucknum, Kirstin Weeks and Thomas Rettenwender for Rana Creek Habitat Restoration which lays out a comparison of living architecture Applications.


The concept of Biomimicry was introduced by author Janine M. Benyus In her 1997 book, “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”. The book presents examples, and explains why the field is important now. She writes, “Our planet-mates (plants, animals and microbes) have been patiently perfecting their wares for more than 3.8 billion years … turning rock and sea into a life-friendly home. What better models could there be?”

The book lists numerous examples of people who are studying nature’s achievements, including photosynthesis, natural selection, and self-sustaining ecosystems, among others. Benyus then explains how those researchers use the inspirations found in nature to emulate “life’s genius” for the purpose of improving building and manufacturing processes, creating new medicines, changing the way people grow food, or harnessing energy.