Green / living building rooftops could be considered analogous to various symbiotic relationships that exist between species in the animal kingdom. Green rooftops can provide a range of useful services to a building project — storm water management (reduced runoff), reduced building energy consumption due to natural shading and cooling provided by a green roof, and increased roof operational lifetime due to reduced exposure to wind, water, hail, and UV radiation. A building hosting a green rooftop in turn provides useful services to local ecosystems, providing a semi-natural habitat where various plant and animal species can reside.
This type of symbiotic relationship is reminiscent of a range of symbiotic relationships in the animal kingdom. Oxpeckers, for example, are a bird species that frequently live on top of large mammal species. Oxpeckers (akin to green roof) provide useful services to their host mammals (akin to building), including removing and eating insects and parasites clinging to the mammals. Moreover, “when alarmed, the birds hiss, alerting their mammal partners to possible danger” (Britannica). In turn, the oxpeckers themselves benefit through access to the insect species that comprise the habitat.
Other related examples include various species of “cleaner fish” that feed on other organisms residing in the mouths of larger sharks or whales.
Other analogies that come to mind:
- Immune system is similar to a security or fire alarm system that detects hazards and responds accordingly.
- Similarly, a building’s fire sprinkler system could be compared to the human sweat system in terms of responding to hot temperatures and releasing moisture to cool the system down.