Best Practices in Sustainability
by Ross A. Leventhal
Over seven hundred individuals gathered in Atlanta, Georgia in April to attend the fifth annual EnvironDesign conference and to learn about the latest visionary work related to environmental stewardship.
William A. McDonough, FAIA, and Michael Braungart, founders and principals of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, set the tone through their inspirational keynote address, "Cradle to Cradle: The Blueprint of the Next Industrial Revolution."
They envision a transformation of the environmental movement from trying to minimize waste to rethinking entire systems, and thus eliminating waste altogether. They would rather be "eco-effective" than "eco-efficient."
They are currently working with a variety of industries, from textile to automotive, to transform corporate business models. Working only toward an efficiency that is "less bad," they argue, industry will never get to the point of having a positive effect on the planet.
Using the inherent optimism of the designer, they propose a new model. The eco-effective agenda establishes ties between ecology, equity, and economics as represented in a triangular diagram.
The large triangle represents a series of questions to be posed when trying to achieve sustainable design. The smaller triangles represent individual questions such as, under ecology, "does waste equal food?" Within economics, "can we make and sell this at a profit?"
In the master plan for a Ford Plant, William McDonough envisioned a greener future with stormwater mitigation, constructed wetlands, and green roofs.
Image: William McDonough + Partners
In McDonough and Braungart's eco-effective agenda, the large triangle represents a series of questions to be posed when trying to achieve sustainable design.
Image: McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry
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