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Regenerative Design: Key Terms

In recent years, HDR and the architecture, engineering and construction industry as a whole have used many different terms to describe practical design approaches that have measurable outcomes and move us towards a regenerative future. These terms can sometimes be confusing, so we've provided short descriptions below to hopefully bring some clarity. 

  • BIOPHILIA:  humankind’s innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life
  • BIOMIMICRY:  the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes
  • CARBON BALANCING:  the ability of a project to achieve net positive carbon emissions for both operational and embodied carbon due to the project sequestering more carbon than it emits over its lifecycle
  • DESIGN FOR DECONSTRUCTION:  strategies that allow a structure to be deconstructed at the end of its life in a way that allows for the re-use of certain building components, extending the life cycle of the building and in turn, its long-term carbon sequestration
  • LIVING BUILDING:  regenerative buildings with net-zero or net-positive resource impacts that support health and well-being and connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community 
  • NET-ZERO ENERGY BUILDING:  a building that produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements, thereby reducing the use of nonrenewable energy in the building sector
  • NET-ZERO EMISSIONS BUILDING:  a building that produces at least as much emissions-free renewable energy as it uses from emissions-producing energy sources
  • REGENERATIVE DESIGN:  design that reconnects humans and nature through the continuous renewal of evolving socio-ecological systems
  • RESTORATIVE DESIGN:  design that reverses damage that has been caused to a particular site by either nature or humans
  • RESILIENCY:  the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance
  • (TRIPLE) NET-ZERO:  a project that achieves net-zero energy, net-zero water and net-zero waste at the site level