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Biomimicry OR - Genius of Place: Stormwater

A Study on stormwater management systems in Portland, OR using biomimetic principles.

Matt Piccone

on 12 August 2014

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Transcript of Biomimicry OR - Genius of Place: Stormwater

Share 1 of the following:
one word to describe how you feel
one take home message, or
one idea for future collaboration or future learning about biomimicry you'd like to explore
Our Place – Setting The Stage
Sustainable Stormwater Practices
Overlapping concave units for water and solar energy collection
Signal transmission - collection and transmitting weather data
Water is channeled through turbines to power street lights and pumps
Plants and other natural media filter the water. It is stored below in impervious containment reservoirs for future use.
Water is redistributed at multiple filtration stages depending on its intended end use
Potable water
Grey Water Use
Primary flows for Secondary users such as Greenhouses, ADUs, and Livestock are obtained by tapping into the abundant resources of their hosts. In return, they provide a source of food and income.
Unused lots become temporary wetlands during the winter months
Pervious surfaces and trap, slow, and redirect water into storm planters. They also can be used to slow traffic.
Overlapping surfaces and canopies slow, collect, and store water
Water flows downhill to intercepts
Ground level water interception
Ground level water interception at curbs
In time of drought or over-abundance, water is exchanged with ground water tables for storage or emergency supply.
How do we reduce the volume of peak water in the city combined sewer system?
How can we manage peak stormwater flows at building, district, and city scales?
Looking to the living organisms and systems of a particular place to provide guidance and models for establishing locally attuned strategies for design.
VISION: Inspiring innovation in Oregon by emulating nature’s genius
MISSION: Biomimicry Oregon seeds life-friendly innovation by inspiring people to emulate nature’s genius through:
connecting people from all sectors with biomimicry resources and each other,
increasing awareness of the value and practice of biomimicry, and,
catalyzing projects and celebrating successes.
Genius of Place - Lavasa
Functions to manage water:
"How does nature manage water flows?"
Biological Research
Identify local challenge(s).
Biological research - look and listen for ways local organisms/ecosystems (the geniuses) address the challenge.
Translate the biological research into design principles.
Ideate locally attuned design strategies based on the design principles.
Genius of Place In a Nutshell
Catalyze the application of biomimicry in Portland, Oregon
Develop 3-5 Genius of Place stories for our region
Introduce 50-100 design and research professionals to biomimicry
Develop template that can be used in other regions
Foster collaboration and build Biomimicry Oregon network
Genius of Place Project Goals
Local Genius
Genius of Place - Lavasa
How does nature manage water…
… in a moist deciduous forest ?
a world empowered by nature’s genius
Protect from monsoon rains
Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa)
Genius of Place - Lavasa
Protect from monsoon rains and erosion
Harvester Ants (genus Pheidole)
Divert water with multi-path, low gradient, curvy channels
Elongated shapes and channels foster quick shedding of water from surfaces
JAN 17, 1-5pm
Raise Additional $10,000
Identify Challenges
Choose Sectors
Outreach & Action
Summary Report
Workshop Prep
Ideation Workshop
Genius of Place Study
Groups of 3-4
Ideate sustainable design concepts using Design Principles from the natural models we've shared.
Refer to info-graphics on your table.
Refer to Life’s Principles.
Ideas encouraged from any scale: product, building/house, neighborhood/EcoDistrict, city (infra-structure), watershed, policy.
We encourage 'blue sky ideation' - not necessarily time to generate 'feasible' concepts – OK to identify technical feasibility questions
Present design concepts include Organism, Design Principle/Life’s Principle emulated, design concepts.
Break out session
life creates conditions conducive to life
1 hour
Genius of Place Process
Introduction to Biomimicry
Context on Portland’s sustainable stormwater program
Break - 10 minutes
30 minutes
Genius of Place research results
1 hour
Break out session (small groups): ideate design concepts
30 minutes – report out
15 minutes – Closing
Introduce Biomimicry & the Practice of Biomimicry as an innovative approach to solve sustainability challenges
Share our Genius of Place Process
Learn about the Water Flow Management strategies of local organisms and ecosystems
Practice using Design Principles from local geniuses to ideate innovative stormwater management concepts
Provide opportunity for working collaboration among diverse partners with an interest in sustainable stormwater solutions
Share on-going learning opportunities in Biomimicry
Inspire curiosity and interest in further exploring biomimicry as innovation approach
Workshop Objectives
the conscious emulation of nature’s genius
What can we learn
from nature’s designs
to help sustain ourselves
on Earth while
protecting and restoring what’s still here?

Life’s Principles
Biomimicry: learning life’s strategies to solve the same challenges we have
capturing energy
storing water when available
Biolytic Filtration Process
COMOLEVI Forest Canopy
PAX Water: “Lily Impellor”
Design Principle
Application Ideas
Life’s Principles
Bundles of hollow cylinders transport water. Holes in the walls between hollow cylinders allow water storage, absorption, and evaporation.
Design Principle
Copyright © 1997, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
Softwood microstructure
Combine modular and nested components
Use life friendly chemistry
Leverage cyclic processes
Use readily available materials and energy
Fit form to function
Integrate the unexpected
Use low energy processes
Embody resiliency through variation,
redundancy and decentralization.
Build from the bottom up
Life’s Principles
Design Principle
Interlocking matrix of mixed material spanning perpendicular to the water’s flow creates a high cavity surface area that slows water for storage or increased water absorption.
Application ideas
Application ideas
Core Function:
Inoculate plantings with mycorrhizal fungi (bio-utilization)
Incorporate high surface area in structures designed to reduce runoff/absorb peak flows
Reduce urban runoff by integrating root design into rain gardens or pavement or ???.
Application ideas
murray’s law: an optimal way to distribute fluids
Optimize water uptake using network architecture that increases surface area over which osmosis occurs.
absorb water
Overlapping concave units with water repellent lower surface and hydrophilic concave upper surface absorbs water and captures energy.
Design Principle
Overlapping, redundant units/surfaces at multiple layers above the ground surface maximizes surface area - intercepting water and reducing erosive force.
Application Ideas
Integrate a series of overlapping canopies and roof structures over existing impervious surfaces to delay runoff and maximize surface area potential. These structures can play host to elements that help absorb water, further reducing the amount of water the reaches the ground during storm events.
Require a certain amount of canopy cover per area for new developments
Incorporate diversity
Embody Resilience through Variation, Redundancy, and Decentralization
Life's Principles
Optimize resource sharing by using multiple connection points into a distribution network.
Design Principle
Life's Principles
Use Readily Available Materials and Energy
Cultivate Cooperative Relationships
Integrate the Unexpected
Application Idea
Irrigate greenhouses, aquaponic systems, and vegetable gardens with water collected by surrounding buildings, using piping and filtration systems connected inside the host building.
Core Function:
Old Growth Forest Canopy
Core Function:
Intercept and slow water
Hydraulic Redistribution
Core Function:
Transport Water
Design Principle
A subterranean network transports water along a water potential gradient.
Life's Principles
Use Feedback Loops
Recycle All Materials
Use Readily Available Materials and Energy
Leverage Cyclic Processes
Application Ideas
Create distribution networks that can transfer water between them using passive mechanisms.
Design piping that can transfer water using capillary action and osmosis
Ginny Stern,
Biomimicry Education Collaborative
Empowering students as stormwater designers, problem solvers and community conveners, emulating nature’s genius
Bird cooling strategy inspires ‘Peeing Car’
Beaver dam inspires clean river solution
STEM learning is outdoor FUN!
Invention Convention
Hands on stormwater design
Stormwater Vault
French Drain
Rainwater Cistern
Living Machine
Wastewater Recycling
Living Walls
Hayden Meadows Walmart, North Portland, Walmart
Ecoroof with solar, 79 SE Taylor St.
Portland, Sustainable Business OR
Urban Rain Garden, DC Green Infrastructure
East Lents Floodplain Restoration Project
Urban Bioswale, Bureau of Transportation
Current Strategies
Rain garden
Living wall
Building wastewater recycling systems
Rainwater collection and reuse
Living machine
Low flow plumbing fixtures
Drywells and French drain
Detention basin
Municipal conveyance and treatment
Stormwater Management Practices
More Specifically…
Impervious surfaces inhibit water from infiltrating soil, so waterways become dumping grounds for sediment and chemicals, degrading habitat.
Challenge: Peak Stormwater Flow
Impervious surfaces create huge volumes of runoff that is costly to manage and burdensome to urban operations.
Stormwater Management Practices
Core Function:
Mycorrhizal fungal networks
Design Principle
Graphic: Franklin et al. February 1981.Forest Service General Technical Report PNW 118
Ecological Characteristics of Old-Growth Douglas-Fir Forests. Page 33.
Data: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3955/046.083.0204
Early decay stage (6-8 yrs)
47–70% of rainfall landing on the log evaporates
18–35% flows through the log and leaches out
3–29% runs off the surface
3–11% is absorbed.
Downed Wood Water Dynamics
Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area, The Intertwine
Altier, L.S., R. Lowrance, R.G. Williams, et al. 2002. Riparian Ecosystem Management Model: Simulator for Ecological Processes in Riparian Zones. United StatesDepartment of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Conservation Research Report 46.
2040 - Loss of 12.9 billion gallons of water annually to the Bull Run Reservoir
Tryon Creek runs through the forest in Marshall Park
= More Peak Winter Rainstorm Events
Warmer, dryer summers
Precipitation will increase in the winter (15%), decrease in the summer (30%)
Less snow, early snow melt
Climate Change Predictions
Orographic Effect
Climate Data
Average Max
Temp: 63 F
Average Min
Temp: 46 F
Precipitation: 43 in.
Snowfall: 3.1 in.
Average Depth: 0 in.
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana). Grand fir (Abies grandis) is occasionally co-dominant with Douglas-fir, Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia) is occasionally co-dominant with white oak in riparian oak stands.
Oak and Dry Douglas-fir Forest and Woodland
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla),
western redcedar (Thuja plicata), bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), red alder (Alnus rubra)
Lowland Conifer Hardwood Forest

Learn more and register at
Introduction to Biomimicry (2 hours)
$79 discounted rate good until March 29, 2013
Use Network code: Network2012


Backyard Biomimicry Workshops
1-day or 3-day

Biomimicry Specialist Certification Program: 8 month
Application deadline: February 1, 2013
Biomimicry Professional Certification Program: 2 yr Masters Level
Application deadline March 29, 2013

7th Annual Biomimicry Education Summit
Boston, MA: June 21-23, 2013
Find us on the web:
Inspiring innovation in Oregon by emulating nature’s genius
Lauren Bruschi
Matt Piccone
Ethan Smith
Mary Hansel
Nicole Isle
Karen Allen
Genius of Place project team
Thank You!
Design Principle
Life's Principles
• Combine modular & nested components
• Use multi-functional design
• Leverage cyclic processes
Life's Principles
Use multi-functional design
Cultivate cooperative relationships
Embody resiliency through variation, redundancy and decentralization
Replicate strategies that work
Life's Principles
Fit form to function
Integrate the unexpected
Use low energy processes
Embody resiliency through variation, redundancy and decentralization
Build from the bottom up
Downed Wood
Image by Sarah Steinberg
Image by Sarah Steinberg
We are just one of the 30 -100 million
absorb water
Share Resources
Core Function:
Intercept, absorb, store, and evaporate water
Core Function:
Intercept and slow water flow
What Do Biomimics Imitate?
Full transcript