Nature offers extraordinary design solutions honed by 3.8 billion years' rigorous testing in which whatever didn't work was recalled by the Manufacturer. Using nature as mentor, model, and measure often yields superior design solutions that profitably eliminate waste, loss, and harm.
Imitating Nature Increases Efficiency
Natural systems operate in closed loops. There's no waste—every output is either returned harmlessly to the ecosystem as a nutrient, like compost, or becomes an input for another process. In contrast, the standard industrial model of our age is a linear sequence of "take, make, and waste" — extract resources, use them, and throw them away — a process that erodes our stock of natural capital by depleting resources and replacing them with wastes.
Reducing the wasteful throughput of materials — indeed, eliminating the very idea of waste — can be accomplished by redesigning industrial systems on biological lines that change the nature of industrial processes and materials, enabling the constant reuse of materials in continuous closed cycles, and often the elimination of toxicity. This is the second principle of natural capitalism.
Much of our work is based on this and other biologically based insights. For example, RMI's research and consulting work helps companies close loops in their manufacturing processes, shows real-estate developers how to design buildings that maximize their use of daylight and other "biophilic" characteristics, and helps municipalities replace costly engineered stormwater and wastewater systems with more natural ones that "manage each raindrop where it falls."