“Our planet is telling us a story. Vital connections have been severed between human beings and nature, within nature itself, and between people, religions, governments, and commerce. This disconnection is the origin of the climate crisis; it is the very root—and it is where we discover solutions and actions that can engage all people, regardless of income, race, gender, or belief.

The earth’s biological decline is how it adapts to what we are doing. Nature never makes a mistake. We do. The earth will come back to life no matter what. Nations, peoples, and cultures may not. If putting the future of life at the heart of everything we do is not central to our purpose and destiny, why are we here?”

Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, Paul Hawken

Biomimicry on The Ray

In the summer of 2023, The Ray announced groundbreaking research, publishing its first nature-based design solutions for net-zero transportation. An 18-month process, Biomimicry on The Ray was a research study that used a multi-phase approach to investigate how designs that are observable in nature can reveal solutions within the U.S. mobility sector. “Biomimicry offers us the ultimate source of hope for the future, by drawing upon the natural world’s boundless innovations and limitless possibilities,” said Asha Singhal, Co-founder of the Futuring Collective, Lead Designer and Researcher of Hybrid Futures.

Focus areas were initially identified from stakeholder engagement and a deep dive into The Ray’s publications, articles, and strategic planning documents. Additionally, our staff and Board completed a 15-week biomimicry design methodology training. As a result, The Ray is now uniquely positioned to engage with and implement high-level biomimetic practices.

“The Ray’s three primary goals are zero deaths, zero waste, and zero carbon,” said Harriet Langford, founder of The Ray. “What better example do we have than nature to mimic? Biomimicry provides a lens of how we can use nature’s solutions to work in harmony with the built environment.”

To prevent erosion, reduce flood risk, and filter particulates, The Ray can take inspiration from the North American Beaver to create self-renewing processes for filtering and recapturing tire particles and other toxic materials from roadway runoff.

“Nature is the only model we have for designing regeneratively and has been conducting R&D for billions of years,” said Deborah Bidwell, the Biomimicry Team’s education manager and biology research facilitator with the College of Charleston. “We want to encourage the growing community of biomimicry practitioners – as well as communities, corporations, and local and state governments – to consider the role that living laboratories like The Ray play as amplifiers of nature-based regenerative innovations and holistic sustainable design solutions.”

By mimicking the resilient capabilities of natural systems, Ray can consider new infrastructure concepts and projects that minimize environmental impact and promote efficient, sustainable transportation technologies.