Day 84: We’re surrounded by germs

If you’ve ever wanted to look at graphs depicting the variety of microbes in our office and home ecosystems, this is the talk for you. yet far from scaring listeners with tales of disease and dirt, Jessica Green outlines how we can manage these ecosystems to maintain healthier workplace environments.

Working with Charlie Brown, an architect who has dedicated his work to becoming more sustainable, Green conducted an experiment to discover what happens when a classroom is blacked off at night so it receives no ventilation. Many buildings are already operated like this. They found that the rooms were stagnant and smelled because of the airborne bacterial soup which had been left behind from the previous night. By contrast, rooms designed using a sustainable passive design strategy where air came in from the outside using louvers, meant the outside air washed away the building’s microbial landscape.
Acquiring knowledge about the bacterial ecosystems of an area and designing environments and objects in relation to this has powerful implications for everything from healthcare to the possibility of putting a microbe to induce good breath on phones. Green calls this conscious approach bioinformed design.


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