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William McDonough on Cradle to Cradle design (5/5)

“President Obama very clearly saw that right now the United States is borrowing 700 billion dollars a year from China to give to oil producing countries to get a product that we then burn and cause climate change. I mean this is a bad design if you think about it,” explains architect William McDonough.

“It’s not something we can perpetuate economically. And we certainly can’t perpetuate it ecologically. And it’s not very fair to future generations to burden them with this debt of all kinds.”

McDonough has dedicated the past few decades to creating good design, using his Cradle to Cradle philosophy to design products and buildings that don’t create waste.

He teamed up with Brad Pitt to help create homes for displaced people from New Orleans’ 9th ward. Their Make It Right Foundation is working with 14 architects from around the world to make houses that are “as Cradle to Cradle as possible”.

McDonough has also started moving beyond building and industrial design to make a larger impact on environmental sustainability in our lives. As a partner with VantagePoint Venture Partners, McDonough is helping invest in large scale projects like Shai Agassi’s Better Place (electric car charging networks) and solar thermal technology via BrightSource Energy.

In the final part of his speech, McDonough talks about these large scale works, how they’re “realizing that cities can have much greater biodiversity than countryside” and why the most important design question needs to be “what is our intention as a species”. In this video, he gives his answer: “our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world with clean air, water, soil and power, economically, equitably, ecologically and eloquently enjoyed.”