Regenerative Design Principles

December 1, 2023

We’ve long known that the built environment is responsible for over 40% of global carbon emissions. The ability for architecture and design to positively impact the environment is all of our responsibility, and, as we push ourselves to understand how to move the needle farther and faster, a focus on regenerative architecture is critical to our future.   


The Difference Between Sustainable and Regenerative 

Traditional sustainable design practices are focused on preserving the natural environment or reducing the use of precious resources. This is no longer enough and a shift in our mindset in how we approach projects can be seen in regenerative design. The primary objective of this forward-looking design practice is a net-positive impact on the natural environment. It is a movement toward restoring resources versus restricting them or minimizing their use. The outcome can be a building that contributes clean water, energy, and food back to the ecosystem.   


Core Principles of Regenerative Design 

We see a consistency in these principles as we educate ourselves and work to put them into practice. 

Whole System Thinking and Integration. It is no longer a building on a site, everything needs to be integrated. The completed project is an integral part of the natural environment, contributing back and there is mutual benefit between the built and natural systems.   

Maintaining Biodiversity. Careful consideration must be placed on the species that are currently present on site as well as those that used to be present on site. Buildings can no longer result in habitat loss but instead allow it to flourish.    

Replenishing Resources. On-site renewable energy generation, composting, rainwater collection, and replanting all need to be the focus versus depletion.   

Equity and Diversity. Collaboration with the community and involving as wide of a variety of backgrounds as possible to have a seat at the table through this process is critical to the success of regenerative design and equitable development.   


Regenerative Design and Mental Health 

As we focus efforts on the importance of the design decisions we make and the impact they can have on not only the health of the natural environment, but the mental and physical well-being of the occupants as well, we really enjoyed and wanted to share this resource from HDR on how the principles of regenerative design can impact community mental health and resiliency. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!