Environmentally sustainable bioinspired design : critical analysis and trends
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Within the bodies of living organisms are multitudes of sustainable design solutions that engineers have yet to master. Through the use of tailored sustainable bioinspired design (BID) tools and methodologies, engineers could access and apply this body of biological knowledge to reduce the environmental impact of engineering designs. However, the underlying theory of BID must be more thoroughly fleshed out – and a clearer understanding of the types of sustainability solutions present in biology must be achieved – before such tools and methodologies can be developed. The goal of this thesis is to tackle both issues and, consequently, lay the foundation for environmentally sustainable BID. The first section of this work critically examines thirteen of the most frequently-cited benefits of BID, using academic literature from both biology and engineering design. This analysis presents a nuanced explanation of the ways BID could improve designs and the conditions in which these improvements are expected. Hence, it provides the theoretical foundation necessary to develop tools and methodologies that capitalize on the design opportunities found in biological organisms. The second section focuses on identifying sustainability-related trends in a pool of existing, sustainable BIDs. The type of environmental impact reduction conferred by the bioinspired feature is delineated using a set of 65 green design guidelines (GDGs) to compare the impact of the BID and a functionally-equivalent comparison product. Additionally, the general design features that impart an environmental impact reduction to the sustainable BIDs are identified, analyzed, and discussed. These results provide insight into the types of sustainability solutions that can be found using biological analogies.