William McDonough

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William McDonough is an architect, educator, public speaker, author, entrepreneur, and consultant involved in four primary areas of activity: environmentalist-aligned architecture, innovation of environmentally friendly products, a product registration system for products developed by third parties, and a Design for the Circular Economy. 1 2


McDonough’s business ventures include William McDonough + Partners, an architecture firm; McDonough Innovation; and MBDC, a Cradle to Cradle consulting firm. He also co-founded two nonprofits: GreenBlue and Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. 3

The architecture segment of the business is focused on environmentalist-aligned architecture with projects that include Herman Miller “Greenhouse” factory and offices, Gap Inc’s Corporate Campus, and the Ford Rouge Revitalization project. 4

McDonough Innovation is the consulting segment of the business and advises, designs, and develops products and packaging, as well as advising and coaching executives on McDonough’s environmentalist philosophies and approaches. 5 6

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program, a certification program for products that meet environmentalist standards in the areas of water stewardship, energy sourcing, materials, and “social fairness.” Brands such as L’Oreal, Construction Specialties, Amazon, Home Depot and Starbucks are participants. 7

McDonough is a member of the advisory council for Unilever’s sustainable living plan and has served on Walmart’s external advisory council. 8 9

He is co-founder of non-profits Fashion for Good, a group seeking to advance innovation in sustainable fashion design; Make It Right Foundation, the controversial Brad Pitt-led sustainable home builder;  Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a group of consumer product and packaging organizations working together to create packaging that is more environmentally friendly; and GreenBlue, a group that aids companies in conserving materials. McDonough was a special advisor to President Bill Clinton on the President’s Council on Sustainable Development from 1993 to 1996 and is an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative. 10 11 12 13

Other Activities

McDonough has worked as dean of the school of architecture at the University of Virginia, is a consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, and was a founding member of the University of Cambridge’s sustainability leadership council. 14

He has authored The Hannover Principles; Design for Sustainability for the City of Hannover’s Expo 2000 and co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, followed by The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability-Designing for Abundance. 15


  1. William McDonough, February 12, 2020.
  2. “William McDonough Waging Peace Through Commerce.” William McDonough, September 18, 2020.
  3. “William McDonough Waging Peace Through Commerce.” William McDonough, September 18, 2020.
  4. “WILLIAM McDONOUGH + PARTNERS.” William McDonough, September 23, 2020.
  5. “McDONOUGH INNOVATION.” William McDonough, September 23, 2020.
  6. “Cradle to Cradle ®.” MBDC, October 9, 2020.
  7. Home – Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Accessed October 10, 2020.
  8. William McDonough, February 12, 2020.
  9. “Sustainable Living.” Unilever global company website. Accessed October 10, 2020.
  10. William McDonough, February 12, 2020.
  11. GreenBlue. Accessed October 10, 2020.
  12. Menza, Kaitlin. “Where Did Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation Go Wrong?” Architectural Digest. Accessed October 10, 2020.
  13. “Company Archive.” SPC. Accessed October 10, 2020.
  14. “William McDonough.” McDonough. Accessed October 11, 2020.
  15. “William McDonough.” McDonough. Accessed October 11, 2020.

Connected Organizations

  1. BlueGreen Alliance (Non-profit)
    Former National Advisory Board (Apollo Alliance)
  2. GreenBlue (Non-profit)
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