The Urban Greenprint seeks to identify ecological strategies to inform design in urban environments, fostering ecological health and thriving communities. The brainchild of Biomimicry Puget Sound, a network co-founded by Sustainability Studio Director Alexandra Ramsden, the Urban Greenprint is an innovative, multi-phase project that explores how we can learn from nature to improve the resilience and sustainability of our cities.
This effort was launched by first investigating how the predevelopment ecosystem of the Seattle region handled water flows, balance of CO2, and biodiversity. This was compared to these same metrics in the current, urban development of Seattle, highlighting how far we need to go to create a healthy, resilient ecosystem in our city.
With the award of two previous grants from the Bullitt Foundation, two phases of the project are already complete: research and outreach. The research phase identified gaps between the predevelopment and current metrics, as mentioned above. The outreach phase connected Seattle property owners who have championed exemplary progress toward reestablishing healthy ecosystems with key local organizations driven by strong environmental missions to identify community-scale opportunities to bridge the gaps.
As the project enters its third phase, also funded by the Bullitt Foundation, Rushing’s Sustainability Studio is preparing to put the opportunities identified in the outreach phase into action. This effort will begin with the development of a “toolkit” of design details, strategies, and products which can be used to introduce nature’s brilliant functions to the design and construction of a building. The first item on the agenda addresses the water flows gap. Urban Greenprint uncovered evaporation as a major strategy for mitigating polluted stormwater runoff that harms Puget Sound. By observing natural processes and translating them into the built environment, developers, municipalities, and project teams can all contribute to the creation of a harmonic urban ecosystem.