The Hannover Principles

As host of the world exposition in the year 2000, the City of Hannover, Germany, commissioned the following design principles to insure that the design and construction related to the fair will represent a sustainable development for the city, region, and world. It is hoped that the Hannover Principles will inspire an approach to design which may meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability of the planet to sustain an equally supportive future.

Insist on the rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.

Recognize interdependence. The elements of human design interact with and depend upon the natural world, with broad and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design considerations to recognizing even distant effects.

Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling, industry and trade in terms of existing and evolving connections between spiritual and material consciousness.

Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems, and their right to co-exist.

Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant administration of potential danger due to the careless creation of products, processes, or standards.

Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state of natural systems, in which there is no waste.

Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for responsible use.

Understand the limitations of design. No human creation lasts forever, and design does not solve all problems. Those who create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature. Treat nature as a model and mentor, not an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled.

Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers, and users to link long-term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.

Excerpted from The Hannover Principles:
Design for Sustainability
by William McDonough Architects


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We must face the fact that what we are seeing across the world today
is war, a war against life itself.
Our present systems of design have created a world that grows far beyond the capacity of the environment to sustain life into the future. The industrial idiom of design, failing to honor the principles of nature, can only violate them, producing waste and harm, regardless of purported intention.
If we destroy more forests, burn more garbage, drift-net more fish, burn more coal, bleach more paper, destroy more topsoil, poison more insects, build over more habitats,
dam more rivers, produce more toxic and radioactive waste, we are creating a vast industrial machine,
not for living in, but for dying in.
It is a war, to be sure, a war that only a few more generations can surely survive.
William McDonough


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