The Natural Edge Project The Natural Advantage of Nations Whole System Design Factor 5 Cents and Sustainability Higher Education and Sustainable Development

"It's (The Natural Advantage of Nations) a book of affirmation when despair hits."
Janine M. Benyus

Principles and Practices in Sustainable Development for the Engineering and Built Environment Professions 

Unit 3 - Biomimicry/Green Chemistry


Educational Aims

Lecture 9: Design Inspired by Nature
To discuss the concept of ‘Biomimicry’ and the principles on which the field is founded. To also discuss the role of the professional community in applying this methodology as a global network of Biomimicry practitioners. This lecture has been developed based on extensive conversations with Janine Benyus and is a testament to her leadership in the field as we attempt to communicate the concept to engineers.

Lecture 10: A Biomimetic Design Method and Information Sources

To present a methodology for applying Biomimicry principles to designing engineering solutions. To also provide details about sources and networks available to seek information about natural systems and Biomimicry design innovation examples. The method provided in this lecture builds on from conversations with Janine Benyus and is based on the evolving methodology developed by the Biomimicry Guild in 2005 adapted to fit the engineering design context.

Lecture 11: Definitions and Principles of Green Chemistry and Green Chemical Engineering
To provide and outline of what ‘Green Engineering’ is as defined by Paul Anastas et al. To introduce the concept of ‘Green Chemistry’ and state the 12 Principles developed for this field of science. The purpose of covering this material is to show an example of a field where engineers can take the inspiration from nature and apply it.

Lecture 12: Green Chemistry and Green Engineering In Practice: A Succinct Overview
To show through example, explanation, and argument why the application of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering principles can make a significant contribution to sustainable development, featuring some cutting edge examples. To demonstrate that Green Chemistry and Green Engineering are no longer just ideas, they are the basis now globally for a multi-billion dollar industry.



The engineering profession will play a significant part in moving society to a more sustainable way of life. Recognising this, the Engineering Sustainable Solution Program (ESSP) seeks to provide engineers and built environment professionals with a basic understanding of sustainability issues and opportunities as they relate to their practice. The ESSP is designed to facilitate the effective incorporation of key pieces of information, or ‘critical literacies’, relating to sustainability into engineering curricula and capacity building. This program provides an alert to sustainability principles and activity in the engineering profession.

In the preparation of any education program, and in particular an introductory course, it is a challenge to cover all possible questions or uncertainties that may arise during delivery of the material. In response to this challenge, this program will be supported (in its critical academic rigour and structure) by engineering related material in the publication, The Natural Advantage of Nations, and its companion web site ( along with other key texts.

Required Reading

Hargroves, K. and Smith, M.H. (2005) The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century, Earthscan, London.

The Text Book along with each of the units has an online companion to provide additional supporting material. Optional reading material is provided after each lecture for those who wish to explore the content in more detail.

The development of the Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program – Critical Literacies Portfolio has been supported by grants from the following organisations:

  • UNESCO, Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences, Natural Sciences Sector (with particular support and mentoring from Tony Marjoram, Senior Programme Specialist - Engineering Sciences, and Françoise Lee).

  • The Institution of Engineers Australia, College of Environmental Engineers (with particular support and mentoring from Martin Dwyer, Director Engineering Practice, and Peter Greenwood, Doug Jones, Andrew Downing, Tim Macoun, Julie Armstrong and Paul Varsanyi).

  • The Society for Sustainability and Environmental Engineering (with particular support and mentoring from Terrence Jeyaretnam).

Expert review and mentoring has been received from Janine Benyus and Dayna Baumeister, The Biomimicry Guild (USA); Paul Anastas, Green Chemistry Institute (USA); Alan Pears RMIT University (AUS); Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute (USA); Tom Conner, KBR (AUS); and Mia Kelly, TNEP Working Group (AUS). We would like to add a special thank you to the Engineers Australia review panel Trevor Daniell, Thomas Brinsmead and David Hood.


Smith, M., Hargroves, K. and Paten, C. (2007) Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program: Critical Literacies Portfolio, The Natural Edge Project, Australia (TNEP).


The Natural Edge Project Engineering Sustainable Solutions
Program is supported by the Australian National Commission
for UNESCO through the International Relations Grants
Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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