The Most Influential Green Architect in the World
Chosen for Vanity Fair's list of 100 most influential people in "the new establishment", Mcdonough designed the city-sized Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan, where he installed the world's largest green roof, saving the company millions a year in utility costs alone. It's a perfect example of his work: large-scale ingenuity that is greening business, in the last place you'd expect—in this case, the American rust belt. In 2013, the Ford plant celebrated its 10th anniversary with the living roof thriving and all original plant species surviving. He is also the master planner behind seven new, entirely green cities in China. In his practical-minded, nature-inspired projects—for companies like Nike—he employs sustainable principles that are both beautiful and cost-effective.
McDonough's project principles have seemingly caught on worldwide. In his fascinating talks, delivered with eloquence and a very dry sense of humor, he draws on his stunning body of work to provide you with strategies toward absolute sustainability in all industries. He also explains his influential cradle to cradle design process, in which products can be used, recycled, and used again without losing any material quality—and the subject of his fascinating book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
Written with his colleague, Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle is a manifesto calling for the transformation of human industry through ecologically intelligent design. Their second book, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance, was released in 2013.
McDonough is a contributing writer to The Guardian and The Huffington Post and is frequently featured on GreenBiz.com as part of The McDonough Conversations.
The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance
The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestoes of our time. Now, drawing on the lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice with businesses, governments, and ordinary people, William McDonough and Michael Braungart envision the next step in the solution to our ecological crisis: We don't just use or reuse resources with greater effectiveness, we actually improve the world as we live, create, and build.
For McDonough and Braungart, the questions of resource scarcity and sustainability are questions of design. They are practical-minded visionaries: They envision beneficial designs of products, buildings, and business practices—and they show us these ideas being put to use around the world as everyday objects like chairs, cars, and factories are being reimagined not just to sustain life on the planet but to grow it. It is an eye-opening, inspiring tour of our future as it unfolds in front of us.
The Upcycle is as ambitious as such classics as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring—but its mission is very different. McDonough and Braungart want to turn on its head our very understanding of the human role on earth: Instead of protecting the planet from human impact, why not redesign our activity to improve the planet? We can have a beneficial footprint. Abundance for all. The goal is within our reach.
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
A manifesto for a radically different philosophy and practice of manufacture and environmentalism
"Reduce, reuse, recycle" urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world, they ask.
In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, "waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new-either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are).
Elaborating their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.