VERMONT DESIGN INSTITUTE

sustainable community development and problem-solving through holistic design and planning

DEFINITION OF THE TERM ECOLOGICAL DESIGN

By John Todd and Diane Gayer, April 20, 2010

Ecological Design, or ecomimetics, is an applied ecological science and holistic practice that is rooted in the precepts, principles, and dynamic systems inherent in ecosystems and evolutionary patterns and processes.

Ecological Design sees all systems as complex, adaptive systems, whether they contain human actors or not. Ecological Design therefore takes a systems approach. This perspective is essential if one hopes to reintegrate humans with the rest of nature and begin to heal the ecosystems we co-habit. Ecological Design employs transdisciplinary integration, cooperative energy, creative synthesis, and true participatory problem-solving to understand and resolve increasingly complex issues.

Ecological Design and engineering can be applied to a broad spectrum of activities including energy and fuel production, the cultivation of foods, waste treatment and conversion, landscape restoration and management, forestry and agro-ecosystems.

Ecological Design can be applied to architecture, community and urban design and planning. It can be used to create ecological industrial parks, including the manufacturing of new materials and products from natural systems. Ecological Design can assist in the formation of social and economic systems adapted to an emerging era of resource constraints and information richness.