Managing the magic of microbes | Jessica Green | PhD at TEDxPortland
04
October

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , /


Translator: Denise RQ
Reviewer: Capa Girl These are images of microorganisms. The tiny form of life
that we can’t see with our naked eye viruses, bacteria and archaea. They are the most abundant
and diverse organisms on Earth and they cover
every nook and cranny of our body our buildings and our cities. Most of you when you think about microbes, probably think about the bad ones.
Like MRSA, or HIV or anthrax. But, the majority of microbes
are good for us. Our bodies, just like any ecosystem,
rely on our microbes to survive. Our microbes protect us
from germs and pathogens, they allow us
to get nutrients from our food and they also boost our inmune system. And recent evidence suggests
that they even influence our moods, our levels of stress
and anxiety and depression. So, if you are feeling fantastic today, like I am,
you might want to thank your microbes. And you might want to thank you mother
as well,because we get our — the majority of our microbes come
from our mother when we are born and we also get our microbes
from the food that we eat and from the people
that we spend time with, our friends and people on subways
if you are hi-fiving them on the way down on the escalator —
and we also get our microbes from our primary habitat which is buildings. All of us are going to spend
at least 90% of our lives indoors and while we are indoors,
we frequently — continuosly come into contact with microbes that we breathe in
and that we touch on surfaces. Something that I’ve been interested in, given how important microbes are
to our well-being, is how we manage microbes in our buildings
where we spend so much of our time. And to explain what I’ve learned in recent years
I’m going to make an analogy of a garden. A microbial garden that is — indoors! So, our techniques for
gardening microbes indoors today, loosely follow 4 basic rules. The first rule is that you want to keep
all microbes out of your building, you want to quarantine the building. And we have modern buildings today
that are hermetically sealed, and examples of this,
of the ways buildings have changed, is — we now have operable windows that are replaced
with elaborate air-conditioning systems and filtration systems
that are designed to keep out native microbes that are outdoors, the ones that commonly grow on plants, and live in the dirt,
and live in our waterways and we don’t want them
getting inside of our buildings. And, the second rule, or principle,
is that we put doors on our buildings and allow people to come inside buildings and plant in our gardens,
what I’m refering to as invasive microbes. And these are microbes that live on our bodies,
they are on our skin, they are in our mouth. Every human being
that walks into a building, in one hour, they contribute 37 million bacteria to the air. That’s as many bacteria as the number of people that are currently living in the state of California. And we contribute microbes to the air
by shedding directly from our own body and we also kick up microbes from surfaces that were left behind by other people
that were in the building. Our third basic rule is to keep
a static environment for our garden. So we keep a very narrow band
of temperature and relative humidity, we don’t allow for daily environmental changes
or seasonal changes indoors, and we maintain
this thermal comfort zone for us, because we want to be able
to hang out in our underwear even if it’s snowing outside, indoors. But think about this
from the perspective of a microbe! What we’re doing
is creating an environment that selects for what I think of
as an urban type of microbe that really thrives living
in this homogeneous environment. And the forth rule that we follow indoors, is that we regularly want to kill
everything in the garden. And we do this indoors by relentlessly using
anti-microbial cleaning products and sterilizing surfaces indoors. And when you think about this,
this is really a form of microbial genocide because what we are doing is killing
the good microbes along with the bad. So, if we had a vegetable garden outside, we would never kill all the plants because we wanted to get rid of one weed. And that’s effectively
what we are doing indoors and when you clear out
a bunch of organisms from an ecosystem, what you do is you make space
for weedy and fast growing organisms to come and colonize those spaces, because there’s nothing there
to compete with them. What are the consequences of this way
that we manage microbes indoors? We don’t know yet,
people are just starting to learn about this but I’m willing to speculate
on what I think is happening. Humans have been around
for hundreds of thousands of years but this era of modern buildings
that are hermetically sealed, environmentally constant,
cleaned on a very regular basis this has been around
only for about 60 years. And I believe what we are breeding indoors or growing is a microbial monoculture. And when you think about our bodies,
we probably haven’t evolved to be able to function very well
in this type of microbial environment. And there’s a lot of evidence
that has been published recently, that suggests that many of the ways
of modern living may be affiliated with the rise of antibiotic resistence
and the rise of autoinmune disorders that we all face in the developed world,
like asthma and allergies. I’ve recently been collaborating with
both biologists and architects, including Brandon Bohanan and Charlie Brown
at the University of Oregon to understand how building design impacts
the types of microbes that grow indoors. And we recently conducted a study at the Lillis Business Complex
of the University of Oregon — this is what Lillis looks like
from the perspective of a human. And this is, what it probably looks like, from the perspective of a microbe
flying around the atmosphere. This is an infrared image
that shows differences in heat on the building and microbes
are known to be very sensitive to heat. And this is what Lillis looks like
from the perspective of an architect. So what we did on this building, is — we were very interested in Lilis
because this is a silver LEED certified building and we wanted to know, “Does green building design
influence microbes in a positive or negative way?” So, what we did was,
on the first floor of this building we ran and operated
the building as it was designed. And, what that meant was we let outdoor air enter
the building through louvers. And on the second floor of the building
we manipulated the way that it was operated, and we forced air to go through
mechanical ventilation systems before they reached the classroom — or, all the classrooms that we studied. So these are the results,
these are hot off the press, this is data
that has never been shown before we just got these results back last week. What you are looking at is the first and
second floor of the Lillis Business Complex and you’ll see that there’s
an indicator scale on this diagram where the pink denotes air samples that we took that had microbial DNA that looks very similar
to what’s found in and on humans. And the blue indicates air samples
with microbial DNA that looks very similar to what you might find out outside,
for example in dirt. And what you’ll see is that on the first floor
of the building which is operated according to these LEED standards where
air was coming in directly from outside that air looks more like the outside and on the second floor of the building,
the air looked very human-like. So, these scientific results are intuitive but they clearly show
that we do have some control over the types of microbes
that we are growing indoors. What does all this mean? Today we have landscape architects
that design outdoor spaces and grounds keepers
whose job is to maintain these outdoor spaces
over long periods of time. And the uncharted territory here
is thinking about microbes in a new way
and understanding how to grow the types of good microbes
that we want indoors, so that we can train a new type of architect,
an interior landscape architect who can design healthy indoor gardens and we’re also gonna need
a new flavour of building managers that I am thinking of
as interior grounds keepers that can help maintain
healthy buildings and healthy people. Thank you very much. (Applause)


24 thoughts on “Managing the magic of microbes | Jessica Green | PhD at TEDxPortland

  1. [Esperanto] Tiu ĉi temo miaopinie estas tre grava, krom tre interesa! Ĉu niaj kutimoj pri la mikroboj povas malsanigi nin? Eble, kaj sendube ĝi estas esplorinda kaj esplorenda afero!

  2. OMG love it! I was just thinking about this exact subject. That we can integrate people and plants (and the microbial environment) to work together…so much integration that is missing from the common house and building! I have a number of ideas in this area I would love to talk sometime…
    Nice arms, heh! Funny someone would mention that…you do have good physique and posture. You seem pretty conscious about your balance? Yoga, Tai Chi? etc?

  3. This is incredible! The right microbes can also increase psychological health. We can achieve sustainability and more through biophilic, biomimetic design, ecological engineering/design and the sciences of systems, complexity and networks.

  4. These Ted talks have some really unique and intelligent people who clearly have been exposed to the topic they're speaking of they are clearly speaking from experience so we don't have to suffer or struggle to try and understand it by ourselves.

  5. As a former Environmental Services Director, and one of the for most experts on building sanitation in the nation, I stand in awe of Jessica Green's ideas! Wake up Management, we need a big change!

  6. I'm a contractor and am very much interested in interior landscape architecture. How can I learn more about what you're doing to apply this to up and coming projects?

  7. Just by boosting certain bacteria in certain places. You can be strong as superman heal fast like wolverine, smart like Nikolai Tesla. You could be any thing you could reduce certain bacteria and boost one to switch genders. You could even have skin that blends in like a chameleon.

    You could even influence bacteria so you could smell like a hound. Or see like a owl at night.

    You could even influence in animals like parots to have human consciousness to talk like us on full equal level of awareness. Some day talking dogs like Brian griffin in family guy could exist. Pokemon are possible lawl.

    A world with talking animals all one language loll ? Cow say what don't eat me.

  8. She will never do another TED talk, she forgot to mention that MMGW is the cause of everything and algore is the greatest scientific mind that will ever be dissected after the next great flood

  9. Not good to clean too much 😉 A bit messy hippies, bohos and artists are healthier 😁 like me and my dozen (very messy) cats 😆

  10. I'm never goijng outside again.. I won't survive … As if we are going to build buildings to facilitate production of good microbes. Not happening.

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