Regenerative Pattern for Development


To respond to the Grand Challenge theme of Assuring Clean Water and Sustainable Ecosystems, sustainable development must be redefined using a regenerative system approach that connects food, water, and energy use to the carrying capacity of the local ecosystem. Sustainable Development has been a focus of the international community for at least the last 25 years. However, the development community has failed to fundamentally transform the performance of the built environment in the most critical indicator: ecological footprint. CSBR has been prototyping buildings by type (mixed use office, mixed use housing, library etc.) to achieve net zero energy (SB 2030) and be "sustainable" according to the B3 guidelines. However, this is not enough to get true sustainability or resilience. It is still an effort to green the building by making it more efficient and reducing waste. It is progress, but it does not shift the building paradigm to be a regenerative system (See the bottom diagram) A "regenerative design framework" was used to modify the prototypes with features to achieve a regenerative system state such as: • Energy and water storage • Multiple pathways of resources (energy, water, materials, food etc.) • Integration with natural processes to assimilate and filter waste (wetlands to treat storm and waste water...) This exploratory research proposal asks three questions, which would start to define a new paradigm for development: • What is the pattern of development that can be built and operated within an ecological footprint of one planet per person? • What are the ecological footprint benefits of integrating strategies at the scales of architecture and planning to achieve one planet design? • How do you analyze the ecological footprint and develop key design guidance and metrics? The Center for Sustainable Building Research in the College of Design and the Natural Capital Project in the Institute on the Environment will collaborate to explore and define a long-term plan of research to answer these questions.


CSBR Lead / Co-leaders:

Richard Graves, Director, PI

CSBR Staff:

William Weber, Senior Research Fellow

Elizabeth Kutschke, Research Fellow

Lucas McCann, Graduate Research Assistant

Tianwei Gu, Graduate Research Assistant


Institute on the Environment

Dr. Bonnie Keeler, Lead Scientist, Natural Capital Project

Dr. Maike Hamann Postdoctoral researcher, Natural Capital Project


University of Minnesota, Grand Challenge Committee

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Center for Sustainable Building Research

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