Predictions for the Millenium

Three experts sit down and talk with Natural Home about what home life will be like by the year 2025.

| November/December 1999

  • William McDonough

  • David Roodman

  • Watts Wacker

The millennium—long a subject of anticipation, conjecture, prognostication, and prophecy—is suddenly here. It arrives much like any other new year, but it is not just another calendar event. The millennium is a landmark, a touchstone, a time to reflect on what has been and what will be. Here at Natural Home, we wanted to know what lies in store for us when it comes to our homes, our communities, our environment, and our world in the 21st century. We asked three people we consider visionaries to share their thoughts about the home of 2025, the progress of sustainability, and the future of natural living. In their own words, here is their report.


William McDonough , recipient of Time magazine’s “Hero of the Planet” Award, and the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development. His architectural firm has been a leader in the sustainable development movement since 1977. As co-founder and principal of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, McDonough is internationally renowned for helping companies such as Nike and Ford design a broad variety of sustainable ­products.

David Roodman, senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, a nonprofit research organization devoted to the analysis of global resources and environmental issues. Author of the book The Natural Wealth of Nations: Harnessing the Market for the Environment (W.W. Norton & Co., 1998), Roodman writes for journals and magazines, and has appeared internationally on radio, television, and in print.

Watts Wacker, futurist and CEO of FirstMatter, a company that provides consulting services to General Motors, Sony, British Petroleum, Nike, and Dream Works SKG. Wacker is a frequent contributor to network news organizations and international news publications. 

Natural Home: Let’s start with your prediction of reality for what our homes and lives will be like in the year 2025.

WM:  As an architect and a designer I’m inherently optimistic. Design is a signal of intention. I would obviously intend for the world to be as optimized as possible, so that would be the framework in which I’d be operating. As Buckminster Fuller once said, “The better technology gets, the more it disappears,” so I think a lot of the drama will actually be invisible. What will happen are things like huge advances in transparent insulation, otherwise known as windows. I think we’ll see windows with amazing R values. We’ll see, essentially, solid air. What will happen in the next 25 years is the fundamental integration of transparency and transparent insulation. In modern architecture, the use of glass has been ironic; we’ve sealed people up instead of exposing them to the outside. Architects didn’t know how to integrate glass intelligently with weather cycles and solar shading, so we ended up with these sealed buildings. I think what you’ll begin to find is buildings that can breathe again.

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