William McDonough Speaker

William McDonough

Revolutionary designer at the forefront of the movement towards a sustainable and economically sound industrial future

William McDonough: Biography highlights

The winner of three Presidential Awards in the U.S., William McDonough is a designer who truly understands the needs of modern society.

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Full biography of William McDonough

William McDonough’s background

The need for sustainability in all things has never been more pressing, as an expanding human population requires more from our planet, whilst industry any business need to remain profitable in order to survive. McDonough’s ability to design buildings and towns which are environmentally friendly and economically viable has seen him work with leading brands and with governments around the world.

He is behind the conversion of Ford’s River Rouge plant, creating an eco-friendly manufacturing behemoth far ahead of its competitors. Complete with a living roof and enhanced energy and water efficiency, the plant is typical of McDonough’s work. He also designs green cities in China and is designing a sustainability base for NASA.

All of McDonough’s works are based on his belief that projects can be both economically sound and sustainable. He has proved that humankind can reduce impact on the planet whilst maintaining a healthy bottom line and maintaining or even enhancing performance. In his work with companies such as Nike, Frito-Lay and Gap, he has pioneered systems which reduce energy usage and environmental impact whilst maximising the use of renewable energy sources. In addition to their green and economic credentials, McDonough’s buildings are also designed with users in mind they are open, well lit and make use of pleasing landscaping. It is known that pleasant working environments, homes and communal areas can all improve individual quality of life, so this is another fact which is considered paramount in McDonough’s designs. McDonough’s 2002 book From Cradle to Cradle and its 2013 sequel The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability are educating a new generation of architects and business leaders around the globe and are instrumental in changing thinking for a sustainable future.

Awards, Accolades, Achievements, Honours

  • Member – Advisory Panel, SAP CEO Sustainability (2011-present)
  • Co-founder – Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (2010)
  • Chairman – Global Agenda Council on Design, World Economic Forum (2010)
  • Member – External Advisory Council, Walmart (2009present)
  • Chairman Emeritus – U.S. Board of Councilors, China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development (2009-present)
  • International Fellow – Royal Institute of British Architects (2008present)
  • Chairman – Future of Sustainable Construction, World Economic Forum (20082009)
  • Ecomagination – Board of Advisors, General Electric (20082009)
  • Honorary Member – American Society of Landscape Architects (2008)
  • 21st Century Visionary Science Leadership Award – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2008)
  • Founding member – Sustainability Leadership Council, University of Cambridge (2007present)
  • Member – International Board of Trustees for Sustainability, Arizona State University (2007present)
  • Co-founder/Board Member – Make It Right Foundation (2006-present)
  • Member – Cherokee Sustainability Council (2006present)
  • Advisory Board Member – Healthy Child Healthy World (2006present)
  • Consulting Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering – Stanford University (2004present)
  • Member – Advisory Board, Dow Jones Sustainability Index (2004-present)
  • Senior Advisor – VantagePoint Capital Partners (2004present)
  • National Design Award – The Smithsonian Institution (2004)
  • Presidential Green Chemistry Award (2004)
  • Benjamin Botwinick Prize for Ethical Practice in the Professions – Columbia University Business School (2003)
  • Member – School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Leadership Council – Yale University (2002present)
  • Cultural Leader – World Economic Forum (20022008)
  • Co-founder GreenBlue (2002)
  • I.D. Forty Design Award – I.D. Magazine (2001)
  • Fellow – Urban Land Institute (1999present)
  • Professor of Business Administration/Alumni Research Professor – Darden School of Business, University of Virginia (1999present)
  • Hero of the Planet Time magazine (1999)
  • Designer of the Year – Interiors Magazine (1999)
  • Fellow – American Institute of Architects (1997present)
  • United States Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996)
  • Charter Member United States Green Building Council (1993present)
  • Special Advisor to President Clinton – Presidents Council on Sustainable Development (19931996)
  • Official Representative – Preparatory Committee for UNCED (The Earth Summit) (1992)
  • Founding Member – Committee on the Environment (19891993)

Leading the way in sustainable design, McDonough bases what he says on his own knowledge and experience. He is not just a thought leader; he has worked as a green architect with world leading brands and is ready to advise others who need guidance.



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Watch William in action

1/2 videos
Resource Abundance by Design | William McDonough at World Economic Forum
Resource Abundance by Design | William McDonough at World Economic Forum
William McDonough at the World Economic Forum | The Fourth Industrial Revolution
William McDonough at the World Economic Forum | The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The New York Times

Testimonial for 'Cradle to Cradle': "One of the most influential recent books on design and environmentalism."

Alice Rawsthorn
The Guardian

Testimonial for 'Cradle to Cradle': "A rare example of the inspirational book that actually is."

Steven Poole
University of British Columbia

Testimonial for 'Cradle to Cradle': "With this book, McDonough and Braungart open our eyes to the way to genuine sustainability by the study of nature and mimicking her ways. This is a ground-breaking book that should be the Bible for the Second Industrial Revolution."

Dr David Suzuki
Professor Emeritus

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