Community Philosphy Blog and Library

HOMEGROWN Visionaries: Thanks to R. Buckminster Fuller

Eternally inquisitive, vehement in his convictions, and staggeringly creative, R. Buckminster Fuller’s legacy challenges all us to consider how our behavior impacts the planet. A look back at his life’s work: “Starting With The Universe” is now at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (until September 21).

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is an annual call for “comprehensive solutions that radically advance human well-being and ecosystem health.” This video showcases several of the most notable entries:

This year’s $100,000 prize was awarded to to Dr. John Todd, for his “Comprehensive Design for a Carbon Neutral World: The Challenge of Appalachia“. In the Jury’s words:

Dr. Todd’s proposal sets forth a profound vision to heal the environmental and economic scars of the Appalachian region and a detailed strategy to build a dynamic sustainable economic basis for lasting renewal. A comprehensive design strategy, the Carbon Neutral World will use biological processes to restore degraded coal lands in Appalachia, and to use the process to return atmospheric carbon to the soil.

Naturally, we at HOMEGROWN are most intrigued by the “Vertically Integrated Greenhouse” and Building Integration projects from New York Sun Works. Essentially, using the inevitability of urban living to its maximum ecological potential.

Save Land: Vegetable yields are about 20 times the typical yields of field agriculture.
Save Water: Recirculating irrigation consumes five to ten times less water than field agriculture.
Protect rivers: Recirculating systems eliminate fertilizer runoff to surface waters.
Reduce pollution: Urban greenhouses eliminate the use of fossil fuels in tractors and trucks
Recover rainwater: The greenhouse roof can be designed to capture rainfall, reducing storm overflow. Improve food safety: Integrated pest management does not require chemical pesticides.
Improve health: Access to fresh vegetables is improved in urban communities.
Reduces waste: Waste heat from buildings can be captured to heat the greenhouse.
Cool buildings: A cover of vegetation mitigates the urban heat island effect, even under glass.
Combat global warming: Up to 0.5 kg of CO2 emissions can be mitigated for each kg of vegetables produced in a rooftop greenhouse.

Visionaries, indeed. What other ideas are out there? We’d love to hear from you!


7 Responses to “HOMEGROWN Visionaries: Thanks to R. Buckminster Fuller”

  1. The New York Academy of Sciences just published a cool podcast on Buckminster Fuller. Check it out here:
    They talk to some cool sources like his daughter and grandson, and one of the architects he worked with.

  2. Interesting that you mention Buckminster Fuller. I usually associate him in my mind to Fullerene nano-spheres ( You might also wish to examine the idea of carbon negative that’s been popping up lately – going beyond carbon neutrality (

    Out of curiosity, I was wondering what your source for the “combat global warming” point was. I’d like to cite that in a report I’m doing.

    Any generous guidance would be lovely,
    Sunny Lam

    Ffenyx Rising

    Member of Green Enterprise Toronto

  3. Thank you for your interest! Sunny, the source of that quote is from the NY SunWorks web site
    Good luck.

  4. I agree that the idea shown are well worth study and pursuit. I would like to take this minute to point out that some “GREEN” ideas are more subtle. Teach children how to design with natural geometries, nano or biological. My entry that addresses this Trim Tab effect can be found at:

    Bucky himself admired my modular geometry, now you can build with it along with your kids.

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