Christian Long

William McDonough: Cradle to Cradle Design

In TED Talks on April 25, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Reflection by ANDREW R.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

William McDonough:  Cradle to Cradle Design

In this video, William McDonough speaks of the environment. As an architect, it it his job to design building as efficiently as possible. He has to take into account how much energy is being used, if the building is harmful to the environment, and so on. He describes the problems in the environment now, and how is company is using the “cradle to cradle” method to approach these issues.

The future for our world’s children is very important to McDonough.

He uses a toy rubber duck to display this. He is very puzzled and angered to notice that every rubber duck sold in California comes with a label that says, “This product contains chemicals known by the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” McDonough can’t quite understand how the State of California can know about these dangers to children but continue to sell these small rubber toys. McDonough explains how in his field of work, that rubber duck is how he defines a bird.

He explains how design is the first signal for human intentions. McDonough asks the question of what are human intentions. He knows that his intentions clearly are to create a safer and healthier way for humans to live. He continues to speak about designers, guardians, and commerce. He explains their intentions and their outlook on life.

McDonough tells about his visit to the White House, and what he proposed to President Bush (this TED talk was given in 2005). He pointed out to the federal agencies there that if there “end game” was global warming, then they are in great shape. However, McDonough said that if their “end game” was mercury toxification of children downwind of coal fire plants as they scuttled the Clean Air Act, then the education programs for school should be called, “Brain death for all children, no child left behind.” Although the audience laughed at this, they understood that it’s a very serious matter.

Our children might not get to enjoy the life that we do today just because of people not taking care of the Earth.

McDonough later speaks about the intentions of his company. He displays what they have recently done, what they are working now, and their plans for the future. A major idea they have put into effect, mainly for Ford Motor Company, is putting grass on the roofs of their factories and buildings. This magnificent idea conserves a lot of energy and cuts the prices of the energy bills. McDonough’s company saved Ford Motor Company $35 million. The more that this grass-roof method spreads throughout the world, the better we are doing for out environment and the less money our companies will have to spend on energy. For future plans, his company is going to build 12 cities in China. 400 million people will have houses, just because of McDonough’s company. They are going to use the grass-roof method on these 12 cities.

McDonough’s main “intention” and goal is to create a safer world for the present and the future. As a child, McDonough grew up in the very polluted and over-populated city of Hong Kong. This inspired him to make a change in the world, and to make a safer and healthier tomorrow for our children.


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