Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2013: Semi-Finalists Announced

Living Building Challenge certified: Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Laboratory © Flansburgh Architects

The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) has shortlisted nineteen, innovative proposals for the 2013 . The annual international design challenge, who crowned The Living Building Challenge as winner last year, awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

The 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalists are:

The Loowatt System, a self-contained human waste collection and processing system that, rather than being faced with the typical costs of centralized sewage treatment systems, creatively converts human waste into energy and fertilizer, improving local health conditions, while providing economic opportunity.

SOIL, a non-profit based in Haiti, provides locally-built dry toilets complete with a system for collecting, hauling and composting solid human waste and turning it into valuable fertilizer, reducing risks to human health from exposure to raw sewage while generating local employment and improving agricultural productivity by enhancing the soil fertility of degraded farmland.

Mushroom Packaging is a new class of home-compostable bio-plastics made from living organisms, mushroom mycelia, developed by Ecovative. Their high-performance, environmentally responsible alternatives to traditional plastic foam packaging, insulation, and other synthetic materials offer a revolutionary, truly sustainable alternative to the current toxic plastic foam materials that pollute and burden the modern world.

Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science collaboratively develops inexpensive, open-source monitoring tools and techniques in order to ‘democratize’ science and empower a grassroots network of ‘citizen scientists’ to be able to accurately measure environmental problems, and, when necessary, challenge inaccurate government and industry environmental health data in order to demand accountability.

Bioenergy Value Chain, or Abellon Clean Energy, is a comprehensive clean-energy system: they buy excess agricultural waste from local farmers (typically either burned, causing air pollution and respiratory illness, or ineffectively composted, releasing methane), and turn that plant material into efficient and clean-burning ‘pellets’ that can then power industrial plants, businesses and small homes. .

Healthy Watersheds for Clean Energy symbiotically addresses poverty and deforestation by mobilizing communities in remote northern Nicaragua to monitor and police their forests and to practice ecologically-sound agriculture by working with them to install non-polluting, low-impact micro-hydro electrical generation facilities, showing them that the electricity and clean water is dependent on the vitality of the forests in their watershed.

TBS River Regeneration works to restore river systems and local rural economies in India by drawing from ancient water wisdom, empowering local communities to build small traditional rainwater harvesting structures (johads) as well as by developing local and national awareness and education programs.

The Green Chemistry Commitment, an initiative to get university chemistry departments to commit to integrating Green Chemistry into their academic curricula and transform how chemistry is taught and practiced in order to eliminate the numerous devastating neurotoxic and carcinogenic chemicals that characterize modern life and damage the global ecosystem, replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.

IBJ Legal Training Resource Center works to prevent falls in the gap of worldwide legal systems, rather than exposing wrongdoings after the fact, they are training attorneys and legal officials in legal best practices and creating a global legal community that can be supportive and protective of lawyers working in difficult contexts.

Voltree Acoustic Early Detection Sensor System harvests power from a living tree to convert its chemical activity into small amounts of electric current and to ‘read’ its levels of dehydration, disease, fire risk, even potential seismic activity and CO2 levels, anticipating emerging challenges in agriculture and forestry in order to prevent such things as insect infestations and fire.

100,000 Homes Campaign, an ambitious campaign to spark a “national movement to house America’s most vulnerable homeless people” by reframing the issue as a health crisis and transcending entrenched mindsets to figure out how to effectively collaborate and how best to allocate existing financial resources.

Fundacion Paraguaya aims to eliminate poverty in Paraguay using a bottom up strategy that combines granular analysis and data collection, grassroots financing, precise targeting of services, and coordination on a national anti-poverty effort.

Echale a tu Casa, an elegantly integrated model that combines community empowerment, local technical capacity building, a novel, affordable financing system, and cutting-edge but culturally appropriate “green” building techniques to improve housing conditions for otherwise underserved populations in Mexico.

MASS Design Lab is a research project of MASS Design Group, exploring the integration of public health, economic development, environmental performance and education into a comprehensive formalized architectural strategy through a rigorous assessment process and immersive community component.

Build Change aims to radically reduce the number of people who die or are injured in natural disasters, especially earthquakes, by widely disseminating best-practice building and retrofitting methods in the most seismically at-risk regions of the planet.

PITCHAfrica: Waterbank Schools, a building prototype in Laikipia, Kenya, is a working demonstration of the remarkable leveraging power of water catchment as a socially integrated resource awareness and community engagement tool. .

Ento is introducing insects to the Western diet. As agricultural productivity cannot keep up with global food demands, edible insects potentially have positive environmental benefits globally as well as on human health.

Olazul, a non-profit organization working to improve coastal community livelihoods in developing countries, is developing a more sustainable model of shrimp farming, and contributing to the restoration of ocean ecosystems as well as increasing support for marine conservation. .

Cooperafloresta, using both rediscovered traditional ecological knowledge and modern agricultural science, Cooperafloresta is accelerating the natural succession of flora and fauna in agriculturally degraded areas of Brazil, going further than ‘organic agriculture’ and Biodynamics by using agroforestry techniques to bring major environmental and socio-economic benefits to poor rural communities.

The jury will engage in the final phase of the vetting process over the next six weeks and will convene in person for the final deliberation in New York City on October 7th, 2013. The public is welcomed to attend the discussion with the jurors as part of the city-wide Marfa/NY Climate Change events at the School of Visual Arts. More details will be made available on the Buckminster Fuller Institute website. 

Review a synopsis of each extraordinary initiative that is currently under consideration and let us know who you think should win the challenge in the comment section below. Feel free to click on the project titles for a deeper understanding of each proposal.

News via the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2013: Semi-Finalists Announced" 25 Aug 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=420281>

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