Principles

The Hannover Principles

William McDonough and Michael Braungart, 1992

The Hannover Principles were formulated by Michael Braungart and William McDonough for Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany. “[The Principles] are a set of maxims that encourage the design profession to take sustainability into consideration. They are descriptive of a way of thinking, not prescriptions or requirements.” They provide a context for architects and other designers to reconcile conflicts between economic gains, human health and the well-being of the environment (people/planet/profit).

  1. Insist on the right of humanity and nature to coexist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.
  2. 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 recognize even distant effects.
  3. 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.
  4. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems and their right to coexist.
  5. Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant administration of potential dangers due to the careless creation of products, processes or standards.
  6. 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.
  7. Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative force from perpetual solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for responsible use.
  8. 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 as an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled.
  9. 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 to reestablish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.