Sustainable business and the value of values: the latest from The McDonough Conversations

“Sustainable business and the value of values,” is the latest installment of The McDonough Conversations on GreenBiz.  William McDonough discusses with Joel Makower how value relates to sustainability and answers why eco-efficiency isn’t enough for some companies.  In an economy where many companies are numbers driven, “the concept that a business could be values-based and then produce business value is really crucial,” says to McDonough. The full interview is available on

Makower: Can you give me an example of how well-meaning companies get it wrong?

McDonough: We see certification systems in healthy materials that are just a few superficial statistical numbers that somebody is self-reporting, and that get characterized as being a real review of a material or a product without context when actually their values represented need to be questioned.

You will see a statement that says, “This is safe for you and the environment.” Then it tells you that it has components that can cause development problems in your children, reproductive problems in our mothers and endocrine disrupters of hormone systems.

But it told you it’s safe for you and the environment. There’s not even truth in data there, not to mention the fact that you have to question the values of the people who would continue to sell a product and talk about it in this way. It’s really amazing to me that they would create value for their business while promulgating and selling with a smile on their face.