Brian Tuohy

people , places and things that I've come across

Eco-Man William McDonough

By b2e | January 3, 2015 | 0 Comment

Bill McDonough

I had the pleasure of working with Kit Tyler and the Environmental Legacy Project team when we interviewed William McDonough in San Francisco. It’s hard to say what William McDonough is “known for” because there’s no one thing to mention.
William McDonoughDo we say he’s a venture capitalist and equity investor? Do we talk about his architectural and product design, urban strategizing and environmental and renewable energy consulting? Or how about research into energy and water, manufacturing materials, and product optimization? Shall we note he advises the CEOs of major companies on branding, product development, and strategy? That he established a non-profit to certify products based on the principles in the book he co-authored with Mike Braungart called Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

Want to hear how Brad Pitt introduced him prior to one of his speeches? Or that he designs roofs that grow plants, reduce pollution and save money?
The short answer would be yes. Not that we can give you a short answer.
Because whether in this case the sum of the parts is greater than the whole doesn’t matter — the sum of the parts is a pretty great whole to begin with. And because Bill McDonough’s life’s work is making sure the sum of the parts is equal to — and in one sense less than — the whole.

It’s about working to make sure the energy expended on a project or on the product is not wasted, and thrown into a garbage dump somewhere.

And maybe even rethinking the idea of “garbage” while we’re at it, because one human’s “somewhere” or “over there” is another’s “my place” and heart and hearth and home. And we shouldn’t be blithely tossing trash into it. That’s what Bill’s been spending — investing — his life in and on and that’s what he’s “known for” if we want to know the truth; if we need to put a label or name on it.

Speaking of such things, it’s fashionable these days to slap “eco” in front of a word, to proclaim its green bona fides — “good faith” — but here’s the thing to say about Bill and his blizzard of activity: his energy expended is going to be equal or less than the output (that’s the whole point). He is a man, just one, and it is all about making that fact go as far as possible.

Sounds like a superhero — Eco-Man.

Sounds like a goal and a plan.

Listen up, people.