22 February 2012 – US architect and keynote speaker at Green Cities 2012 Mary Ann Lazarus is an expert on biomimicry – the art or science of taking “cues from nature” with the potential to transform the future of our built environment

The word comes from the roots bios – life – and mimicry – to  imitate, she told The Fifth Estate in the lead up to the conference, on 5-6 March  in Sydney.

“The way it works is to draw lessons from a deep understanding how natural systems thrive in different environments and apply those to human challenges,” Lazarus says.

“Our goal is to seek a balance between human and natural systems using this approach.

“By adopting nature’s strategies solutions for example around water storage and reuse, carbon sequestration, non-toxic materials, we can create an entirely different impact on the health of people and planet.”

Lazarus says her firm has been collaborating with the Biomimicry Group to bring this natural systems thinking to design both at the large city wide scale and building scale.

“One example is the design for Lavasa, a new town in India, where we took lessons from the local flora and fauna on how to build to withstand the extreme drought and flood conditions in that region.”

In Australia, she said it there are ” literally thousands of great ideas to learn from nature to apply to local built environment solutions.”

The You Tube video is from a talk Lazarus has given, posted in  November last year.