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By Janine Benyus

It seems so obvious now: Innovators are turning to nature for inspiration in building, chemistry, agriculture, energy, health, transportation, computing–even the design of organizations and cities. Biomimicry is taught from kindergarten to university and practiced in all scales of enterprise.

But it wasn't always this way. When Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature first came out, none of the people featured in the book knew one another, nor was there a name for their nature-inspired approach. Wes Jackson was mimicking prairies to breed a new agriculture and Tom Graedel was coding forest design principles into industrial ecology, but their parallel paths never crossed.

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by Rebecca Adamson

The McKinsey Global Institute's report, The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women's Equality Can Add $12 Trillion to Global Growth, concluded that, "Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. If women … do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer."

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LL28 / Getty Images

Solar panels can provide electricity for decades, and they have few maintenance needs compared with other energy generation systems. However, regular solar panel cleaning is important to ensure they remain productive. When dust and debris accumulate on the surface of photovoltaic cells, they block sunlight, and less electricity is produced.

The best solar panels come with a power production warranty of 25 to 30 years. Like any device, they lose performance capacity over time. High-quality modules will only lose around 0.5% of their capacity each year, but this is only true for solar panels that are cleaned regularly. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, soiling can reduce panels' annual electricity output by up to 7% in some parts of the U.S.

Rain can naturally wash away dirt and particles from the surface of solar panels, especially if they are tilted. So if you live in a place with regular rainfall, your panels will be less affected by soiling. However, solar panel cleaning services are still recommended two to four times per year to make sure your system stays productive.

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