William McDonough Receives Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership at The World Economic Forum

The Circulars awards celebrate the success of trailblazers leading the way toward a prosperous circular economy.





CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Jan. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — William McDonough has received the Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The award recognizes leaders who have made an outstanding contribution to the development of a prosperous and sustainable economy. In recognizing McDonough, the committee singled out his lifetime of visionary work, furthering innovation in design – both in theory and in practice.Through his writings, speeches, presentations, and extensive body of work, McDonough has challenged designers to rethink the way they make things. His seminal book Cradle to Cradle, co-authored with Michael Braungart, is used as a standard text by educational institutions around the world and has been translated into nine languages. In 2005, Cradle to Cradle was published in China and carried the title: The Design of the Circular Economy.

McDonough has a decades long track record of applying these principles to meet real world design challenges in everything from buildings to master planning and from textiles to packaging.McDonough is the architect of many recognized flagships of sustainable design, including the Ford Rouge truck plant in Michigan; the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College; and NASA’s Sustainability Base, one of the most innovative facilities in the US federal portfolio. He is designing “Garden Factories” in India covered with solar collectors and greenhouses for HeroMoto, the world’s largest motorcycle company. He is master planner and lead architect of Park 20|20 and the new National Hub for the Circular Economy in the Netherlands. His office buildings are designed to easily convert to housing in the future or for eventual disassembly as valuable materials for continual beneficial use by future generations.

McDonough’s first product design was for a seating fabric commissioned by the DesignTex division of Steelcase, the world’s largest furniture company. Called Climatex LifeCycle, the fabric is characterized as a “biological nutrient” and uses rapidly renewable, natural materials and non-toxic dyes. Water leaves the factory as clean or cleaner than the potable water coming in. Production costs were lowered, waste disposal costs drastically reduced.Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet company (a division of Berkshire Hathaway) worked with McDonough and his concepts to design a collection of PVC-free “technical nutrient” carpet tile to be endlessly recycled and reused as a product of service. Today, over 60% of the company’s sales come from Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products and Shaw reclaims 100 million pounds of carpet annually.

McDonough co-founded the independent not-for-profit Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute which administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program, a globally recognized, design and science-based mark of product quality. Most recently, McDonough introduced a concept he calls “carbon positive design,” which is an approach to beneficial carbon management that rebuilds soil, connects agriculture and cities, unites urban and regional ecosystems, and promotes clean energy. It is complemented by his new language of carbon published in November 14 issue of the science journal Nature.An academic and adviser, McDonough serves as a Consulting Professor at Stanford University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is a founding member of the Sustainability Leadership Council at the University of Cambridge, and counsels various other academic institutions on environmental design stewardship.

At the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos this year, McDonough’s iconic ICEhouse™ (Innovation for the Circular Economy House) has returned to be available as a meeting place for a second year in a row. ICEhouse offers a curiosity to visitors to Davos of the opportunities of WonderFrame™, McDonough’s broader vision for a simple, flexible, and affordable floor and roof structural system that can be erected quickly with the simplest of tools. The ICEhouse was commissioned by Hub Culture and supported by SABIC. This special Davos edition is made of technical materials (durable polymers, aluminum and aerogel) which will be returned to industry at the end of their use cycle. These durable elements can be endlessly used and reused in new products across generations.

“I am honored to receive this award and to have had the opportunity to promote the circular economy as a key component of Cradle to Cradle inspired design,” said William McDonough. “Our goal is very simple: to work toward a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world—with clean air, water, soil, and power—economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed. This is a clear, values-based goal that can be used by all leaders of today and tomorrow to produce value. It allows us to shift from seeing a world of limits and self-centeredness to seeing a world of abundance, resourcefulness and shared benefit in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. I am grateful to WEF for encouraging our work, and I urge industry to join us in moving toward a circular economy.”


About William McDonough

William McDonough, FAIA, Int. FRIBA, is an internationally recognized architect, designer, sustainable growth pioneer, and business strategist. He works at scales from the global to the molecular. For more than four decades, McDonough has helped to define the principles of the sustainability movement (through McDonough Innovation, William McDonough + Partners, and MBDC). He has created some the movement’s seminal buildings, products, and writings. He was the inaugural chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy. McDonough is co-creator of the Cradle to Cradle® design framework.


About the Circulars

The Circulars is an initiative of the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders, sponsored by Accenture Strategy with AB InBev, Dell and Ecolab. The aim of The Circulars is to increase awareness of the potential of circular economy business models to both create value and make better use of finite resources; to enable understanding of how to adopt these models and to drive action through celebrating the success of those businesses which are leading the way.’ For more information, visit thecirculars.org

Cradle to Cradle® is a registered trademark of MBDC, LLC.
Cradle to Cradle Certified™ is a certification mark licensed by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
ICEhouse™ and WonderFrame™ are trademarks of McDonough Innovation, LLC.