Quick Definition

Cradle to Cradle® is a unique approach to design and science, created by architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart and described in their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

The Cradle to Cradle Institute provides companies with a means to tangibly, credibly measure achievement in environmentally-intelligent design. All C2C products are made from non-toxic materials that, at the end of their life, are taken apart and either turned into raw materials for new products or returned to the earth as compost. These products are manufactured using renewable energy and marketed with socially responsible strategies.


In Depth

Cradle to Cradle design is characterized by the following:

  • Products are designed for disassembly and recirculation
  • Materials used to make products are nutrients (biological and/or technical) that can be safely used and reused
  • Maintains and enhances water quality
  • Uses renewable energy
  • Honors social fairness and human dignity
  • Improvement is continuous and aspirational

Cradle to Cradle design is fundamentally about improving product quality by moving from simply being “less bad” to become “more good.” Conventional eco-efficient approaches often seek to minimize damage and reduce a negative footprint. Cradle to Cradle encourages an eco-effective approach, resulting in a positive or beneficial footprint instead of reducing a negative one.

Cradle to Cradle is based on the principle that all products should, at the atomic level, be comprised only of elements and manufacturing processes that are not harmful to human, animal and environmental health. This includes all cycles of a product’s life from product inception to the end of its use. Cradle to Cradle is modeled on nature’s abundant cyclical life process where all end-of-life scenarios feed the next round of life or growth.

Cradle to Cradle design and scientific approaches recognize the complex, abundant cyclical processes of nature’s ecosystems –the “biological metabolism.” Cradle to Cradle also encompasses a parallel “technical metabolism” of continuous industrial flows of materials, energy and water within our global community.

Our Application

Cradle to Cradle principles are fundamental to our design process, building methods and product selection. Our homes are designed to produce more energy than they consume and have a positive impact on the environment. We employ water stewardship strategies like pervious concrete and all our homes and buildings are solar-powered. We use Cradle to Cradle certified building materials like Shaw carpet and Cosentino countertops. We collaborate with communities to design buildings that meet their needs and respect the dignity of the residents.

If you would like to learn more about how materials are accessed and certified, please go to MBDC's webpage which outlines the Cradle to Cradle certification process.