Earth Day Awards


Every year Green Building Pages TOP TEN EARTH DAY AWARDS recognizes personal, corporate, community and governmental efforts that make our world a better place.

IN 2014 WITH THE LAUNCH OF OUR SISTER WEBSITE, GREEN PRODUCT PAGES, we have the pleasure of recognizing the TOP TEN EARTH DAY AWARDS x 2 - once for the building industry, and once for the general global community - giving us the opportunity to offer a greater perspective on the growing depth, breadth and inspiration within the sustainability movement.

You will begin to understand as you click on Paul Hawken's image, that these award recipients represent a small fraction of the sustainability movement and leadership that is emerging globally in all sectors.

There are some notable trends among the diverse 20+ recipients of this year's two TOP TEN award lists, spanning across disciplines and the globe. Many of this years' recipients have been prolific, writing books, making movies or videos and many have been honored as TED presenters. You can see and hear their passion by clicking on many of their images.

INTERGENERATIONAL CONTINUITY: There are several pairs of 'then' and 'now' leaders who have passed or received the sustainability leadership torch over generations, creating a continuity.

Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs, Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, beautifully articulates the long intergenerational history and wisdom of First Nation peoples that is shared globally.

Rachel Carson, who first raised the alarm regarding the detrimental effects of the chemicals in 1962, is followed by Arlene Blum, who today continues to address the issues of harmful chemicals prevalent in baby toys, furniture and many of our consumer goods.

Jane Jacobs, against common thought, first articulated the social and environmental advantages of compact cities in 1961. Today, Rob Bennett continues to push that envelope with his EcoDistrict campaign to create sustainable city neighborhoods and communities.

While Severn Cullis-Suzuki is the only one of her family receiving a TOP TEN Award this year as an advocate who began her leadership career at age 12 delivering her passionate speech at the 1992 UN Earth Day Summit, her father, David Suzuki, also a famous environmental activist and leader, clearly deserves enormous credit for creating and passing the torch to the next generation of leaders.

UNITED, URGENT MESSAGE: Ed Mazria, Rachel Carson, Arlene Blum, Lester Brown, Al Gore, and others express a constancy and urgency in their messages and their work focused on issues of sustainability and climate change. Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, a group of small islands in the Pacific whose existence is very much in peril, speaks uniquely from the front lines of climate change.

JOY, BEAUTY, REASONS FOR HOPE: Janine Beynus, Shigeru Ban and others have given us many visions and expressions of beauty and joy. And Paul Hawken has provided us with the most wonderful, explicit, lengthy and unusual list of reasons for hope that will likely make you cry.

INSPIRED, LONG VISIONS: Chief Oren Lyons, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Wangari Maatha, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Majora Carter, Susan Maxman, Jane Jacobs, Rob Bennett, David Gottfried, Jane Henley, Van Jones, and each of the others have inspired us with their diverse stories of leadership, vision, continuity and community, along with a whole host of 'firsts'.

The 2014 TOP TEN EARTH DAY AWARDS recognizes these diverse leaders from around the world who have all made enormous contributions toward creating a more sustainable future and building industry.

Take a moment to click on the image of each award recipient to view links and videos to truly appreciate their contributions toward creating our collective sustainable future.










We have the knowledge, we have the riches, we have the power. What is called for is a profound shift in the way we regard this planet and everything on it. Exploitation must be replaced by stewardship. And for stewardship to extend its healing hand, we must act responsibly.

Susan Maxman is a woman of firsts. In 1993 she became the first female president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in its 135 year history. As president, Maxman made environmentally sensitive design a priority for the first time in AIA history. Under her leadership, the AIA published the first, seminal edition of the AIA Environmental Research Guide, a compilation of comprehensive research on the life cycle environmental impacts of common building materials and was instrumental in the formation of the AIA's Committee On The Environment (COTE).

As president, she also spearheaded a collaboration between the AIA and the International Union of Architects to jointly sponsor a convention and international sustainable design competition focused on architecture and the environment bringing sustainable design center stage for discussions and ongoing research for architects and planners at home and abroad.

Maxman is a nationally recognized advocate and expert on the principles of sustainable design and historic preservation. She founded SMP Architects in 1980, and served as principal architect of the firm until 2011.

Maxman sat on the Eco-Efficiency Task Force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, represented the architectural profession at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and chaired the Urban Land Institute’s Environmental Council. In 2011, President Obama nominated her as a member of the National Institute of Building Sciences Board of Directors.

Groundbreaking Firsts





There’s a real transformation happening in our approach to the built environment. But the question is, can we get there fast enough because the clock is ticking.

Edward Mazria is an internationally recognized architect, author, researcher, and educator. Over the past decade, Mazria’s seminal research into Building Sector energy use and carbon emissions has reshaped our understanding of climate change. He is the founder of Architecture 2030, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization developing planning, policy, and design solutions for low-carbon, resilient built environments worldwide.

An award-winning architect, he had a 40-year record of innovation and advocacy in sustainable building. He had long been aware of the dangers of global warming, and energy efficiency had always been a component of his designs.

But Mazria was surprised when in 2002 his analysis of U.S. Energy Information Administration data revealed the true impact of construction on the environment. The building sector, he concluded from the data, consumes approximately half of all energy production and is responsible for about half of all greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2003, Mazria decided to do something about it. As part of his practice in Santa Fe, he started and financed a research organization, Architecture 2030, to facilitate dramatic reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In 2006 he left his lucrative practice, incorporated Architecture 2030 as a nonprofit organization and issued the 2030 Challenge, a set of benchmarks for reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment (buildings, homes and other man-made structures) to “net zero” by 2030.

Ripples of excitement spread through the building community. The challenge was immediately adopted by the 80,000-member American Institute of Architects and, a few months later, a resolution was passed at the U.S. Conference of Mayors calling for the adoption of the challenge by all cities.

Congress also took notice. The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act required all new federal buildings to meet the energy performance standards set forth in the 2030 Challenge starting in 2010. The city of Seattle has created the Seattle 2030 District, an interdisciplinary public-private collaborative working to create a high-performance building district downtown to meet the 2030 Challenge targets district-wide.

PBS e2 series





Designing a dream city is easy. Rebuilding a living one takes imagination.

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail that laid the groundwork for current planning terms like SMART Growth, Liveable Cities, and EcoDistricts that now seem like common sense to generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists.

"Death and Life" made four recommendations for creating municipal diversity: 1. A street or district must serve several primary functions. 2. Blocks must be short. 3. Buildings must vary in age, condition, use and rentals. 4. Population must be dense.

These seemingly simple notions represented a major rethinking of modern planning. They were coupled with fierce condemnations of the writings of the planners Sir Patrick Geddes and Ebenezer Howard, as well as those of the architect Le Corbusier and Lewis Mumford, who championed their ideal of graceful towers rising over exquisite open spaces.

Ms. Jacobs's next book, "The Economy of Cities" (Random House, 1969) challenged the ideas that cities were established on a rural economic base; rather, she suggested, rural economies have been built directly through city economies. The New Yorker called the book "radiant with ideas," while National Review praised it for formulating "a badly needed urban myth."

Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With an eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, short blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centred approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. She lived in Greenwich Village for decades, then moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and writing on urbanism, economies and social issues until her death in April 2006.

A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to create community, connect and invest in the places where they live, work, and play.

JANE JACOBS WALK, a non-profit organization continues her work in creating liveable cities.





EcoDistricts are living laboratories for cities who want to dig deep into sustainability.

Rob Bennett is the founding CEO of EcoDistricts. He is a recognized leader in the sustainable cities movement with 14 years of direct experience shaping municipal sustainable development projects and policy at the intersection of city planning, real estate development, economic development and environmental policy. At EcoDistricts, Rob identifies and promotes “next generation’ urban sustainability projects in the areas of policy, leadership and strategy.

Portland is among a small but growing handful of “eco-cities” around the globe that are developing demonstration green neighborhoods to showcase the latest in green technologies and practices. These eco-cities or “eco-districts” expand on the one-building-at-a-time approach to effect greater change. Canada, China, Korea, Scandinavia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States all have transformative projects that integrate a variety of energy, water, transportation, and waste management strategies on a neighborhood scale.

Before EcoDistricts, Rob founded Portland’s award-winning green building program, G/Rated and helped shape the green building and infrastructure strategies for catalytic development projects such as the Brewery Blocks (Portland, Ore.), the South Waterfront (Portland, Ore.), and the 2010 Olympic Village (Vancouver, BC). He also worked at the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, where he provided technical assistance to cities throughout North America in the areas of climate change reductions and building performance policy.

Rob was a founding board member of the Cascadia Green Building Council and was a board member of REACH Community Development. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Massachusetts- Amherst School of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning.





Green Yourself First – "he key to the green-building movement is not LEED or technology; it’s people. If we’re going to green this world we have to green ourselves, and we can’t lose sight of that.

David Gottfried is known as the father of the global green building movement: founding both the U.S. Green Building Council and World Green Building Councils.

In 1998, Gottfried expanded his GBC vision globally by founding the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC). The WorldGBC comprises the global green building marketplace, with GBCs in approximately 100 countries. It serves as a united nations of GBCs, helping to incubate new Councils and sharing best GBC practices, rating systems, data and new models for collaborative acceleration of global transformation.

David has received numerous leadership awards, including the inaugural WorldGBC Global Green Building Entrepreneurship Award in 2011: the annual Award is now given out in Gottfried’s name, as is the Northern CA Chapter of USGBC’s annual Super Hero award. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Building Industry Conference Board, and serves as a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council. Gottfried sits on the advisory board of 10 venture-backed start-ups. He has been a global keynote speaker since 1998.

David Gottfried is a catalyst for transformation. His work has impacted the global building industry more than almost any other, having founded both the U.S. Green Building Council and World Green Building Council, with GBCs in 100 countries.

Gottfried has written three distinguished memoirs, with his latest work, Explosion Green, releasing in June 2014.




Hundreds of thousands of greassroots organizations are simultaneously erupting to address the current social and environmental justice issues. This global movement is unprecedented, non-ideological, and is humanity's autoimmune response, waking up and talking back, it is about possibilities and solutions.

If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren't pessimistic, you don't have the correct data. If you meet people in this unnamed movement and aren't optimistic, you haven't got a heart.

The bottom line is down where it belongs – at the bottom. Far above it in importance are the infinite number of events that produce the profit or loss.  

Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author. Starting at age 20, he dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy.

He has served on the board of many environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Conservation International, Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Earth, and National Audubon Society. Among recognition and awards received are: Green Cross Millennium Award for Individual Environmental Leadership presented by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2003; World Council for Corporate Governance in 2002; Small Business Administration “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1990; Utne “One Hundred Visionaries who could Change our Lives” in 1995, Western Publications Association “Maggie” award for “Natural Capitalism” as the best Signed Editorial/Essay” in 1997; Creative Visionary Award by the International Society of Industrial Design; Design in Business Award for environmental responsibility by the American Center for Design; Council on Economic Priorities’ 1990 Corporate Conscience Award; Metropolitan Magazine Editorial Award for the 100 best people, products and ideas that shape our lives; the Cine Golden Eagle award in video for the PBS program “Marketing” from Growing a Business; California Institute of Integral Studies Award “For Ongoing Humanitarian Contributions to the Bay Area Communities”; Esquire Magazine award for the best 100 People of a Generation (1984); and seven honorary doctorates.

Be Inspired: Blessed Unrest Video





Nature has provided us with 3.8 Billion years of inspiration and R&D.

Doing it nature's way has the potential to change the way we grow food, make materials, harness energy, heal ourselves, store information, and conduct business.

The biomimics are discovering what works in the natural world, and more important, what lasts. After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival. The more our world looks and functions like this natural world, the more likely we are to be accepted on this home that is ours, but not ours alone.

Janine Benyus is a biologist, innovation consultant, and author of six books, including Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.  In Biomimicry, she names an emerging discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s designs and processes (for instance, solar cells that mimic leaves).

Since the book’s 1997 release, Janine has evolved the practice of biomimicry, consulting with sustainable businesses and conducting seminars about what we can learn from the genius that surrounds us.  Her favorite role is biologist-at-the-design-table, introducing innovators to organisms whose well-adapted designs have been tested over 3.8 billion years.

In 1998, Janine co-founded the Helena, Montana-based Biomimicry Guild with Dr. Dayna Baumeister. The Guild is an innovation consultancy providing biological consulting and research, workshops and field excursions, and a speakers’ bureau. The Guild helps designers learn from and emulate natural models with the goal of developing products, processes, and policies that create conditions conducive to life.

In the world envisioned by science author Janine Benyus, a locust's ability to avoid collision within a roiling cloud of its brethren informs the design of a crash-resistant car; a self-cleaning leaf inspires a new kind of paint, one that dries in a pattern that enables simple rainwater to wash away dirt; and organisms capable of living without water open the way for vaccines that maintain potency even without refrigeration -- a hurdle that can prevent life-saving drugs from reaching disease-torn communities. Most important, these cool tools from nature pull off their tricks while still managing to preserve the environment that sustains them, a life-or-death lesson that humankind is in need of learning.

As a champion of biomimicry, Benyus has become one of the most important voices in a new wave of designers and engineers inspired by nature. Her most recent project, AskNature, explores what happens if we think of nature by function and looks at what organisms can teach us about design.

Biomimicry In Action





Green the ghetto. The economic benefits of environmental equality pay for themselves many times over.

Green infrastructure jumpstarts local economies.

Majora Carter is a visionary voice in city planning who views urban renewal through an environmental lens. The South Bronx native draws a direct connection between ecological, economic and social degradation. Hence her motto: "Green the ghetto!"

With her inspired ideas and fierce persistence, Carter managed to bring the South Bronx its first open-waterfront park in 60 years, Hunts Point Riverside Park. Then she scored $1.25 million in federal funds for a greenway along the South Bronx waterfront, bringing the neighborhood open space, pedestrian and bike paths, and space for mixed-use economic development.

Carter, who was awarded a 2005 MacArthur "genius" grant, served as executive director of Sustainable South Bronx for 7 years, where she pushed both for eco-friendly practices (such as green and cool roofs) and, equally important, job training and green-related economic development for her vibrant neighborhood on the rise.

Since leaving SSBx in 2008, Carter has formed the economic consulting and planning firm, the Majora Carter Group, to bring her pioneering approach to communities far outside the South Bronx. Carter is working within the cities of New Orleans, Detroit and the small coastal towns of Northeastern North Carolina. The Majora Carter Group is putting the green economy and green economic tools to use, unlocking the potential of every place -- from urban cities and rural communities, to universities, government projects, businesses and corporations -- and everywhere else in between.







Jane Henley is Director of the United Nations Sustainable Building Climate Change Initiative (UNEP-SBCI) and CEO of the World Green Building Council, the world’s largest green building organization.

As Chief Executive Officer of the World GBC, Jane’s role is to drive collaboration between 90 national green building councils, provide leadership and support, and advocate for green building as a mechanism to deliver environmental, economic and social benefits.

Her expertise in sustainability is wide-ranging and has been recognized in her following roles:

  • Advisor to New Zealand Ministry of Environment Sustainability Strategy
  • Delegation leader at COP 17, Durban and COP 16, Cancun
  • Member of the Supervisory Board Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Russia
  • Member Deloitte Think Tank, Paris
  • Global Advisory Committee Member of Women and the Green Economy (WAGE)
  • Facilitator of Global Leadership in Our Built Environment Alliance (GLOBE)
  • Founding board member and chief executive officer of the New Zealand GBC
  • Former director of the United Nations Sustainable Building Climate Change Initiative (UNEP-SBCI) board

Jane has addressed audiences at the COP 17 climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa, the APEC – ASEAN workshop on green building in Singapore and the World Cities Summit of Mayors.  Jane sets a positive and entrepreneurial agenda for business to drive change, and proactively create a sustainable future.






Even if a building is made of paper, it will become permanent if people love it. And the opposite can also be true: A permanent building can become temporary if it's destroyed by a disaster, or a developer.

Shigeru Ban's architecture redefines aesthetics, space, structure and even the idea of permanence. In 1986, for the Alvar Aalto Exhibition near Tokyo, Ban experimented with constructing a building from long paper tubes, the kind found at textile factories. The tubes ended up being much stronger than he had imagined, and were easier to waterproof and fireproof than he had guessed. Ban created many experimental buildings in this vein -- from the Japanese Pavilion at Expo 2000 in Germany, which was meant to be recycled upon demolition, to an office for himself and his students set atop the Pompidou Centre in Paris, where they worked for six years.

But Ban's paper-tube designs have found another use -- as emergency shelters for those who have lost their homes in disasters and wars. In 1994, Ban created shelters for refugees in Rwanda. The next year, after an earthquake in Japan, he rebuilt a local church out of paper tubes that became a local fixture for 10 years. His designs -- both low-cost, and dignity-building -- have housed people affected by disasters in Taiwan, China, Haiti, Turkey and Sri Lanka. He helped develop a shelter system after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

The founder of Shigeru Ban Architects, Ban is the 2014 Pritzker Prize winner. He teaches at Kyoto University of Art and Design.





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