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William McDonough

Podcast with world-renowned architect and environmental visionary, William McDounough.

William McDonough William McDonough<

"Reflect on this: It took us 5,000 years to put wheels on our luggage. How smart are humans?" - William McDonough

"My goal is very simple. It's to help create "a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world, with clean air, soil, water, and power -- economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed, period. What's not to like?"

William McDonough is the winner of three U.S. presidential awards: the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996), the National Design Award (2004); and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003). Time magazine recognized him as a "Hero for the Planet" in 1999, stating that "his utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that, in demonstrable and practical ways, is changing the design of the world."

His Book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, (North Point Press). was not printed on conventional paper, but in Durabook, a synthetic "paper" made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers, materials that can be reutilized again and again in industrial processes, what the book calls a "technical nutrient." Be sure to click the "read more" link for lots more info (including pictures and resource links.)

Mr. McDonough has been a leader in the sustainable development movement since its inception. He designed and built the first solar-heated house in Ireland in 1977 while still a student at Yale University and designed the first "green office" in the U.S. for the Environmental Defense Fund in 1985. Mr. McDonough was commissioned in 1991 by the City of Hannover to write The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability, the official design guidelines for the 2000 World's Fair, which the City presented to the 1992 U.N. Earth Summit in Brazil. He and German chemist Dr. Michael Braungart co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (North Point Press, 2002), which has now been published in German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean translations. The two were also the subject of a 2001 documentary video, The Next Industrial Revolution, from Earthome Productions.

Mr McDonough is founder and principal of two design firms. William McDonough + Partners, Architecture and Community Design, has created numerous landmarks of the sustainability movement since 1981, designing homes, offices, corporate campuses, academic buildings, communities, and cities. McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) employs a comprehensive Cradle to Cradle design protocol to chemical benchmarking, supply-chain integration, energy and materials assessment, clean-production qualification, and sustainability issue management and optimization. Mr. McDonough and his firms have received numerous national and international architectural, environmental, industrial and design awards for their work.

A recognized leader in sustainable design and development, Mr. McDonough writes and speaks extensively on his design philosophy and practice. His vision of the hopeful, positive, and inspiring possibilities of an environmentally and economically intelligent future by design has made him a highly sought-after speaker for a wide range of audiences both internationally and in the U.S.

Mr. McDonough is Consulting Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, U.S. Chair of the Board of Councilors of the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development, and Chair of the Board of Overseers for the Center for Eco-Intelligent Management at the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid. He is a board member for The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, as well as the Management Committee of HRH The Prince of Wales's Business & The Environment Programme at Cambridge University. Mr McDonough is a venture partner with VantagePoint Venture Partners, a $2.8 billion global technology venture capital firm with a dedicated CleanTech practice group. From 1994-1999, Mr. McDonough was the Edward E. Elson Professor of Architecture and Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia.

Ford Rouge Dearborn Truck Plant

Dearborn, Michigan

Source:William McDonough Partners

Lying at the center of the Ford Rouge revitalization project, this new assembly plant represents the client's bold efforts to rethink the ecological footprint of a large manufacturing facility. The design synthesizes an emphasis on a safe and healthy workplace with an approach that optimizes the impact of industrial activity on the external environment.

The keystone of the site stormwater management system is the plant's 10-acre (454,000 sf) "living" roof --- the largest in the world. This green roof is expected to retain half the annual rainfall that falls on its surface. The roof will also provide habitat, decrease the building's energy costs, and protect the roof membrane from thermal shock and UV degradation, thereby extending its life.

Worker amenities inside the plant include light monitors and skylights that ensure abundant daylight on the factory floor. Above the activity of the main work areas, mezzanine-level walkways house team rooms and a cafeteria.

An innovative air delivery system, in which the building serves as a giant pressurized duct, produces breakthroughs in energy use, operational flexibility, and worker comfort.

With the sound of nesting songbirds chirping over factory workers' heads, the new Dearborn Truck Plant offers a glimpse of the transformative possibilities suggested by this new model for sustaining industry.

The keystone of the site stormwater management system is the plant's 10-acre (454,000 sf)

This concept master plan aspires to indicate, through design strategies, a future that is positive and hopeful in all aspects.

The plan represents a departure from much of contemporary Chinese city planning by seeking to establish a walkable, transit-oriented mixed-use community. The community is structured around a "Jade Necklace" of parks that accentuate an extraordinary landscape of karst formations. The plan also pays considerable attention to "social infrastructure". Every workplace and residence will be within a five-minute walk of a transportation hub and primary school and within 500 meters of an interlinked network of habitats. The plan further supports neighborhoods with community centers and intergenerational transportation within the park oval.

The plan preserves existing stream and wetland communities and calls for the new town to return clean, healthy water to the ecosystem at equal rates and in the same patterns of the undeveleped site through the use of integrated strategies. The overall goal is to make Liuzhou's water cleaner, its air fresher, and its people happier.

About William McDonough + Partners

Source: Company Web site

William McDonough + Partners is a design firm of 46 architects, planners, designers, and support staff. Our work is based on a philosophical foundation rooted in the Cradle to Cradle thinking developed by William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart. We serve clients worldwide from our offices in Charlottesville, Virginia and San Francisco, California.

To provide our clients with the best service, the firm uses an open design team approach to optimize project delivery across all types and scales. William McDonough + Partners also hosts a research department that supports design efforts on issues of environmental concern. The department assesses projects' impact on community and regional environmental quality and provides careful consideration of design strategies and material selection, frequently in close collaboration with MBDC.

About MBDC

MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) is a consultancy founded in 1995 by the world-renowned architect William McDonough and innovative chemist Dr. Michael Braungart to reorient the design of products, processes and systems to provide environmental, societal and financial benefits. MBDC and its co-founders developed and are implementing the innovative Cradle to Cradle℠ paradigm, a unique vision and leadership strategy for industry to realize practical, profitable ecologically-intelligent product design and expand the definition of quality. For more information on MBDC and Cradle to Cradle℠ Certification, please visit or

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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