Green Products Innovation Institute Launches in California

William McDonough + Partners is celebrating the latest enterprise to be formed based on Cradle to Cradle® thinking. Today, our founder, American architect William McDonough, together with German chemist Michael Braungart, announce the formation of the Green Products Innovation Institute.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment for me and Michael Braungart, as we see the Cradle to Cradle vision becoming reality,” said McDonough. “We are honored that the State of California sees value in this thinking and is looking to model their green chemistry programs in a way that will truly change how we make and use things. The Governor’s leadership and the state’s embrace of ‘more good’ rather than ‘less bad’ are setting a powerful example for the world. This public/private, non-profit Institute is a key part of a move toward a Cradle to Cradle economy. It is obvious to Michael and me that this enterprise and its mission represent the next step for advancing the Cradle to Cradle certification mission.”

Creating Safer Products
The Institute is designed to be a resource for those who aspire to achieve new levels of environmental and human health and safety for all products sold in California—creating a way companies can produce new jobs by making innovation the order of the day and making products more good. The Institute, using Cradle to Cradle thinking, will work with leaders from academia, the NGO environmental community, government and industry to establish a protocol for evaluating products. Products that meet the program criteria will receive the mark of Cradle to Cradle Certification. The Institute also will work to develop a database of chemicals, materials, and processes that are positive—a type of “positive list” that will provide a global innovation platform that will facilitate a Cradle to Cradle economy.

Public/Private Opportunity
Governor Schwarzenegger’s leading-edge objectives of the Green Chemistry Initiative provide a unique opportunity for the public and private sector to work together in designing strong state standards for the safety of the ingredients in consumer products. The Institute is forming a broad-reaching partnership with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to advise and assist the state in developing tough, fair and transparent criteria for assessing alternatives to some of the chemicals currently used in consumer products sold in California. By effectively coordinating with DTSC to find practical solutions to the problem of identifying safer alternatives, the Institute can offer industry a clear pathway to optimizing the human and environmental health attributes of ingredient chemistry. The fruits of this partnership will help make the regulatory program more efficient and effective while engaging the industry’s unique capacity to innovate quickly.

Innovation/Job Creation
The Green Products Innovation Institute is set to transform how companies design, select, manufacture and use chemicals, fostering innovation and job growth in a new green chemistry sector in both California and across the globe. Non-toxic material development, scientific research, technology development, commercialization, and technology transfer have tremendous potential to build a stronger, healthier economy and workforce. We are already seeing this with companies like Shaw Industries, Aveda, Method, Herman Miller, and Steelcase, to name a few who are leading innovation in this sector. In 2007, the clean technology sector, which includes green chemistry, grew to $3.5 billion nationally. This investment equates to 48,000 new, direct jobs in the U.S. and additional revenues of $10.8 billion. While energy and renewable technology companies received the lion’s share of that investment, green chemistry garnered the second largest share .

From Our Perspective
While William McDonough + Partners, the architecture and community design firm, does not have a formal relationship with the Institute, we are delighted about this newest member of the Cradle to Cradle family and we look forward to the results of their efforts and those widening impacts on industry, including the building and building products industries.

We congratulate our friends and colleagues at MBDC on this new chapter in their work. Their enormous efforts in the last several years with dozens of companies and hundreds of products are providing an important foundation for this step—without their certification work, and their willingness to share it, the Institute would not be possible.

We are thrilled that the Institute is making its home in San Francisco (and celebrating its launch at Google). The Bay Area has been important to William McDonough + Partners for many years—we have a studio here and many important clients and collaborators call this region home.

We are also excited about the Institute’s international aspirations. We at William McDonough + Partners have come to understand the global reach of Cradle to Cradle though our EU studio in Amsterdam and our many wonderful EU clients, who understand the power of the concept for real estate, development, and architecture. One of these clients, Coert Zachariasse of Delta Development, is here to celebrate the Institute’s launch and share his own vision for a Cradle to Cradle development in the Netherlands, that of Park 20|20, which we master planned for Delta. The first building there, a William McDonough + Partners design for BSH, is now under construction.