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Bill McDonough

William McDonough's remarkable green vision

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I recently had the unforgettable opportunity of interviewing one of TIME magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet.” He is internationally renowned architect and designer, Bill McDonough—coauthor (with Michael Braungart) of the vastly influential Cradle to Cradle:  Remaking the Way We Make Things.  Bill was also recently selected as one of Vanity Fair magazine’s “Top 100 Influential People in 2010.”

Why all the accolades?  Spending many of his formative years living in the Orient, Bill was deeply affected, intellectually and emotionally, by how few amenities many people enjoyed and, further, by the way in which those same people made use of the often paltry resources they did have.  When he returned to the U.S., he saw virtually the opposite:  the profligate consumption and waste that most of us accept as a way of life. 

Educated as an architect, Bill sought a new paradigm for the planning and construction of buildings.  His intellectual and professional quest has taken him beyond buildings into areas of product design and manufacture.  He consults with many major corporations and agencies, including the Ford Motor Company, Nestle Waters of North America, Google and NASA

One of his major goals is to “move beyond the notion of waste” by developing ways of building, manufacturing and energy production wherein what we would now call “waste products” become the raw materials for further applications.  He calls this “closing the circles,” essentially a complete systems approach that relies heavily on out-of-the-box thinking and the better understanding and exploitation of the fundamental chemical nature of things.  This combination of big picture creativity and molecular-level innovation holds many of the keys to true global sustainability.  And he harbors no illusions that the path to true sustainability will be easy. 

A remarkable vision from a remarkable individual.

Click on the arrow above to hear my November 5 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with McDonough.  Greening of the Great Lakes airs Friday evenings at 7 on News/Talk 760 WJR.

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