From Biophilic Buildings to Cities Workshop – SF, Arup, CMU-BCA, BCN

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Biophilia – The DNA for Resilient, Sustainable, and Human 21st Century Cities  


Should Cities be “Green” with Nature?

“We need nature in our lives more than ever today, and as more of us are living in cities it must be urban nature. Biophilic Cities are cities that contain abundant nature; they are cities that care about, seek to protect, restore and grow this nature, and that strive to foster deep connections and daily contact with the natural world. Nature is not something optional, but absolutely essential to living a happy, healthy and meaningful life.”(The Biophilic Cities Network (BCN):


On Friday May 13, 2016, San Francisco Planning co-sponsored a half-day workshop with Arup on Biophilic SF for the week-long Executive Education Program of the,

  • The Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and
  • Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Academy
  • Leadership in Environmental Sustainability Executive Development Program
  • on Big Data & Biophilic Design (May 9-13, 2016)

The San Francisco / ARUP Session expanded the biophilic focus of the CMU/BCA Program from the building (biophilic design) to the city (planning), exploring both the planning challenge and SF’s current initiatives.  On a walking tour to our afternoon discussion, the group visited three buildings with biophilic features, had lunch together in one plaza, and gathered in Arup’s conference room for presentations and discussion.

CMU/BCA Building Executive Program Description (from the brochure): The program offers a global overview of the sustainability movement, advocating a holistic approach to address resource management, promoting increasing use of renewable energy sources while minimizing energy consumption and maximizing health and comfort through innovative design and application of advanced building technologies. Focuses for this year’s program are on biophilic design and big data analytics.

Biophilia describes the natural affiliation of human beings toward nature and living organisms and its emphasis on the innate connection between humans and other living systems such as plants, animals and the weather. Biophilic design refers to the process of creating good habitat for people as a biological organism in the built environment.

Big Data Analytics in the context of the built environment can be defined as sensing, collection, processing and conveyance of building performance information that is understandable and actionable for data-drive decision making for processes of design, construction and operation of buildings and groups of buildings from campus to urban scales.

Click here for the workshop brochure, with a list of tour stops, participants, and literature list.

Click here for the Program Brochure (CMU/BCA Executive Ed).

Click here for a more detailed description of the tour and presentations, and more links.

Click here for references to key references in biophilic design and planning.

Email or for more information.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]

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