Who’s the greenest architect of them all? Could it be the designer of a sustainable development in Africa? Here’s how New Scientist describes the green structure:

Its buttressed towers are built entirely from natural, biodegradable materials. Its inhabitants live and work in quarters that are air-conditioned and humidity-regulated, without consuming a single watt of electricity. Water comes from wells that dip deep into the earth, and food is cultivated self-sufficiently in gardens within its walls. This metropolis is not just eco-friendly: with its curved walls and graceful arches, it is rather beautiful too.
That green structure was designed by — termites.

Insects build such wonderfully efficient bio-structures that green-minded human architects and researchers are now hard at work trying to learn from them. In fact, New Scientist reports on an three-day conference in Italy — dubbed "From Insect Nest to Human Architecture: Workshop on engineering principles of innovation in swarm-made architectures” — that brought together many experts interested in mimicking bugs.

At the conference, architects and researchers discussed how insect architecture interacted more organically with the environment around it — and how these structures were made to constantly morph and adapt. Could human buildings become more like termite mounds, with walls made into “adaptive, porous interfaces that regulate the exchange of heat and air between the inside and outside” and “systems of agents linked by a distributed intelligence that can remodel a building’s structure as conditions change”? I don’t know — but I’m guessing such innovative architecture will require some big revisions to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards.

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A bug's lesson on green building
Green architects study termites and other bugs to find innovative ideas for sustainable buildings.