25 Environmental Champions for 2004 + A Tribute to the Trailblazers

July 1, 2004

Katie Sosnowchik & Penny Bonda

Who are your environmental heroes? That simple question inspired this compilation of 25 champions who are tirelessly working to raise the level of awareness of vital ecological issues, laying forth critical mandates for the future—and sometimes achieving

We are pleased that our champions include some well-known individuals who are engaged on the national or international stage, as well as those who are working quietly in their communities to affect change without much publicity or recognition. We have also included for this first year a tribute to those trailblazers responsible for raising awareness and pioneering sustainable design and business practices early on, providing the very foundation upon which the modern environmental has been built. With special thanks to our judges—Donald R. Horn, AIA, Sustainable Design Program, U.S. General Services Administration; Katie Fry Hester, Advisor, SustainAbility; and Gina Baker, Architect, Burt Hill Kosar Rittelman—Interiors & Sources presents this anthology of environmental guardians who are tirelessly working to raise the level of awareness of vital ecological issues, laying forth critical mandates for the future—and sometimes achieving the impossible in the process. Environmental TrailblazersRay AndersonInterface, Inc One of the first top-level corporate executives to publicly and passionately embrace the tenets of sustainable development, Anderson has been a highly visible and vocal champion for the movement for the past decade. He has criss-crossed the globe with his message (nearly 80 speeches annually for the past seven years), often standing before audiences and acknowledging that, although he is hailed as a captain of industry, "In the future, people like me will go to jail." In his book, Mid-Course Correction, Anderson chronicles his "awakening" to industry's plundering of the earth and the steps his company is taking to adopt "kindler, gentler technologies that emulate nature." In fact, Anderson says his greatest inspiration "comes from seeing the tangible, measurable progress my company is making toward sustainability. That means to me that my vision of 10 years ago is becoming a reality, proving to anyone who cares to look that it is possible to transform a petro-intensive company such as ours and significantly reduce its environmental footprint, eventually (I am convinced) to zero. The power of example, manifest: As Amory Lovins says, 'If it exists it must be possible.'" Rachel CarsonWriter, Scientist, EcologistThere are relatively few environmental advocates today who do not credit the reading of Carson's book, Silent Spring, as a epiphany in their careers. The book, published in 1962, was a great departure for Carson, who previously had written numerous books and
articles telling about the wonder and beauty of the living world. But her dismay and outrage at the impact of pesticides on human and environmental health prompted her to take pen in hand to document how DDT and other chemicals being used to enhance agricultural productivity were actually poisoning our lakes, rivers, oceans and ourselves. Though hugely controversial when first published, her research and conclusions were subsequently acknowledged by a Science Advisory Committee appointed during the Kennedy administration, and many state legislatures responded by introducing pesticide-related legislation. Carson died in 1964 after a four-year struggle with breast cancer, leaving as her legacy the early rumblings of the modern-day environmental movement.
Thirty-five years after her death, she shared the cover of Time magazine with Albert Einstein and Jonas Salk as the most influential scientists and thinkers of the 20th century.
Janine BenyusNature WriterMany believe that Benyus' book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, has done more to teach a diverse readership the mysteries of the natural world than any classroom possibly could. Published in 1997 and hailed for its intelligence and inspiration, one reviewer described it as "a primer that will teach you how to think like a blade of grass, a duck pond, a wheat field, a redwood forest, and thus, to live within the natural order." Its title, Biomimicry (from bio, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) "refers to a science that studies nature's best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. Studying a leaf to invent a better solar cell is an example," Benyus explains. Her credo is simple: we save what we love, we love what we understand and we understand what we are taught. Her passion, she says, comes from the mysteries of life and her desire to affect others with her knowledge of and enthusiasm for the natural world. To that end, Benyus has successfully brought biologists, industrialists, inventors and designers together to explore why organisms can perform highly technical maneuvers without leaving any damage behind—and how we can be as elegant and restorative. John ElkingtonEnvironmentalist, AuthorElkington rocked the foundation of traditional corporate thought when, in 1997, his ground-breaking book, Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of the 21st Century, hit the book stands. His inspirational, practical treatise demonstrated how all businesses can successfully adopt a three-prong strategy for the future, one that includes not just economic prosperity, but also environmental protection and social equity. He currently serves as chairman of the consultancy firm SustainAbility, which he founded in 1987 with Julia Hailes. It works with businesses from a variety of industries and world regions, helping them understand and respond strategically to the evolving challenges of sustainable development. Personally, Elkington cites eight core values on his Web site (www.johnelkington.com) that drive his thinking and actions: evolution (real change happens over generations); sustainability (future generations as stakeholders today); diversity (evolution feeds on difference); transparency (sustainable economies are see-through); conversation (wellspring of insight): memory (capture lessons of experience); intuition (facts only get you so far); and serendipity (learn from mistakes and fortunate accidents).Paul HawkenEnvironmentalist, AuthorWell-known and respected as an environmentalist, educator, lecturer, entrepreneur and journalist, Hawken is considered one of the leading architects and proponents of
corporate reform with respect to ecological practices. He helped found The Natural Step in the United States and internationally, a non-profit that assists business and government leaders in establishing a long-term commitment to environmental sustainability as a core part of their overall policies. His 1993 book, The Ecology of Commerce, shattered the mainstream consciousness of business, causing many CEOs to rethink and transform their internal corporate culture and business philosophy toward environmental restoration. It has since become a classic text on business and the environment and, in
1998, was voted the #1 college text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools. This success was subsequently followed by the publication of Natural Capitalism, authored by Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, which is described as a groundbreaking blueprint for a new economy and a future in which business and environmental interests increasingly overlap, and in which businesses can better satisfy their customers' needs, increase profits and help solve environmental problems all
at the same time. "The future," Hawken once told Interiors & Sources, "belongs to those who understand that doing more with less is compassionate, prosperous and enduring, and thus more intelligent and even competitive."
Denis HayesEarth Day NetworkTwenty million Americans took to streets, parks and auditoriums on April 22, 1970
to demonstrate for a healthy environment. The coast-to-coast rallies of that first Earth Day—conceived by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin—were organized by Hayes, the national coordinator, and a youthful staff. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political
alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city dwellers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. That first Earth Day also led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Hayes next organized the first International Earth Day in 1990, which mobilized 200 million people in 141 countries. He returned yet again in 2000 to chair Earth Day's 30th anniversary, including the activities of 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries. "I suppose the last thing we expected when we were putting it together in 1970 was that we were creating a permanent holiday . . . Instead what has happened is that over the last 30 years this has now evolved into a true secular, global, theme-based holiday," Hayes told Robert McClure, a reporter with the Seattle Post-Intelligence, this year. Hayes continues these long-lasting ties as head of Earth Day Network, which coordinates Earth Day activities worldwide, and as president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, a $100 million environmental foundation located in Seattle.
Robert MassieCoalition for Environmentally Responsible Economics (CERES)For more than two decades, Massie has been working on issues of corporate
governance and responsibility. For most of the past eight years, Massie was executive director of CERES (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies), a coalition of investment funds, environmental organizations and public interest groups whose mission is to move businesses, capital and markets to advance lasting prosperity by valuing the health of the planet and its people. And though he recently stepped down from this role due to health reasons, he continues to serve CERES as a board member and senior fellow. His bold thinking is credited for the creation of both the Global Reporting Initiative and the Sustainable Governance Project and he is often lauded for his ability to create networks among diverse and what might appear to be opposing groups. "We live in a society where the dominant model is winner take all," Massie once said. "That is not a sustainable model. The sustainable model is people coming together from many points of view, from cultural and global diversity, and coming to understand what goals we really want as a community on earth."
Samuel MockbeeThe Rural StudioThough he passed away in December 2001, the legacy that Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee bestowed in the hearts and minds of his architecture students—as well as the citizens of some of the poorest counties in Alabama—will live on in the work of The Rural Studio, a program he founded in 1993 with colleague D.K. Ruth. The Rural Studio provides Auburn University architecture students the opportunity to put their education and skills to work through "context based learning," where they live in and become a part of the community in which they are working. What it has ultimately achieved is the creation of architecture that uplifts the spirits and souls of those who experience it. "Does anyone in the Hamptons deserve anything less than anyone in Masons Bend and vice versa?," he once asked. Indeed, "Mockbee cast a spotlight on an aspect of our culture that most avoid . . . and he demonstrated that socially responsible architecture can delight the senses, inspire the masses, and serve the soul," wrote Daniel Bennett, FAIA, dean of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction at Auburn University. "Mockbee presented architecture as a discipline which is rooted in community . . . a principle that must be committed to environmental, social, political and aesthetic issues."William McDonough & Michael BraungartMcDonough Braungart Design ChemistryThough their early careers took different paths—McDonough as an architect and Braungart as a chemist—their chance meeting in 1991 forged a future that has since been intrinsically linked. Among their first projects was to co-author The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability for the 2000 World's Fair; they have since gone on to champion the concept of eco-effectiveness—human industry that is regenerative rather than depletive. "Nature—highly industrious, astonishingly productive and creative, even 'wasteful'—is not efficient, but effective," they wrote in a 1998 article entitled, "The NEXT Industrial Revolution." From an industrial design perspective, it means products that work within a cradle-to-cradle lifecycle, rather than cradle-to-grave. They are famous for many well-coined terms, most especially "waste = food," where all products are seen as nutrients within biological (natural) or industrial (technical) metabolisms.

With clients that have included Ford, The Gap, Nike, Shaw, Herman Miller, Steelcase, Unilever, Dow and Honeywell, McDonough and Braungart are leading a business revolution by proving that it is possible to do well by doing good.
Daniel QuinnAuthorMillions of people have read Daniel Quinn's bestseller Ishmael since it was first published in 1992, and most feel the same way as Jim Britell of Whole Earth Review: "From now on I will divide the books I have read into two categories—the ones I read before Ishmael and those read after." The book begins with a simple personals ad: "Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world." A young man searching for direction in his life answers the ad only to find that the teacher is a lowland gorilla named Ishmael, a creature of immense wisdom. Ishmael goes on to challenge his student—and the reader—to consider the consequences if humanity continues down its current path as a civilization driven to destroy the world in order to live. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man's destiny to rule the world? Or is a higher destiny possible—one more wonderful than he has ever imagined? Quinn believes the story of Ishmael is a story of hope. "This book shows that we can learn about what [our] destiny is from the life around us—and in Ishmael it just happens that life speaks with the voice of a lowland gorilla."Theodore Roosevelt26th President of the United StatesThough certainly not the inventor of conservation, it is inarguable that President Roosevelt was instrumental in propelling the conservation movement forward and into the public consciousness. Upon becoming President in 1901, his long-time interest in the outdoors translated into policy. In fact, in his inaugural address Roosevelt asked Congress to set up a federal forestry bureau, which led to the establishment of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905. "Conservation means development as much as it does
protection," Roosevelt noted in Views from the Rough Rider. "I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us." National Geographic estimates that under his watch, the area of the United States placed under public protection totals approximately 230 million acres. The areas preserved and activities for conservation included: 150 national forests, 51 federal bird
reservations, four national game preserves, five national parks, 18 national monuments, 24 reclamation projects and seven conservation conferences and commissions.
Sim Van der RynVan der Ryn ArchitectsFor over 35 years, Van der Ryn's design, planning, teaching and public leadership has advanced the acceptance and knowledge of ecological principles and practices in architecture and planning. "Design should tell a story about place and people, and be a pathway to understanding ourselves within nature," he once said. He has made
ecological design a real solution for single and multi-family housing, community facilities, resort and health centers, schools, office buildings, commercial buildings and planned communities. His greatest inspiration, he says, "is the wonder and beauty of the living world all around us. I want it to be there for generations to come. Today, dysfunctional government, unrestrained corporate greed and mindless technology are threatening the very basis of our survival. Is that an extreme statement? I wish it were, but science confirms it every day. It ain't pretty. We designers go about our business, adding a few words like 'sustainability' and 'green.' Sure we're trying, but not enough—and not together. We need to all stop being servants to a system that doesn't work and get on with the work of bringing design back to life."
David SuzukiDavid Suzuki Foundation

An internationally respected geneticist, environmentalist and broadcaster, Suzuki is recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology. A "gifted interpreter of science and nature," he has authored numerous best-sellers (more than 300 articles and 32 books) and hosted more than 10 weekly television shows/series and nearly 20 special programs that explain the complexities of science in a compelling, easily understood way. Suzuki was a full professor at the University of British Columbia from 1969 until his retirement in 2001. Today, he serves as chair of The David Suzuki Foundation, a group that works through science and education to protect the balance of nature and our quality of life, now and for future generations. One of its most recent works, Sustainability Within a Generation: A New Vision for Canada, explores how Canada can achieve economic and environmental sustainability within a generation if government works with industry and public policy groups to address major issues. "This is neither a lofty goal nor some obscure academic idea," Suzuki said. "We need to understand that a healthy economy is inextricably linked to a healthy environment—it's not one or the other."
E.O. WilsonHarvard UniversityConsidered by many to be the father of the modern environmental movement, Wilson has, through his teachings and writings, contributed greatly to the field of conservation by exposing nature's glories and frailties with both elegance and clarity. He has identified the components of our ecological plight—biodiversity lost through species extinction, an environmental footprint already too large for the planet to sustain, the effects of population stress and habitat destruction—and examines them from many perspectives, including human behavior. He is a self-admitted pragmatist who hopes he doesn't sound like a "mamby-pamby centrist." "I feel that some of the great problems we have in society and the environment seem insoluble because of polarization," Wilson has said. "The answer is, in my view, to define the problem and get both sides to examine it and agree on a solution. That is the way I believe democratic societies can and will evolve." In his book, The Future of Life, Wilson makes a passionate plea for a new way to manage and protect our eco-system—one that marshals arguments from science, economics and ethics to drive home the necessity for proper stewardship.Environmental ChampionsEnvironmental Champion #1Stefan BehnischBehnisch, Behnisch & PartnerDescribed as an architectural visionary, Behnisch doesn't consider himself a green
architect because he believes that architecture and environmental responsibility are
eternally meshed. He incorporates specific, targeted environmental strategies into every single component of the design, planning and construction process. His foresight and innovation have contributed to stunning, functional and environmentally "whole" structures including the NordLB Bank building in Hanover, Germany; the Institute of Forestry and Nature Research in the Netherlands; and most recently the Genzyme Center in Cambridge, MA. An important aspect that enriches his work, he says, "is the
fact that the clients, engineers and colleagues with whom we are collaborating on these innovative projects are interested, ambitious and innovative people." The tangible outcomes of his work can be measured in lowered waste, energy and pollution output. The intangibles are most visible in the increase in workmanship, productivity and collaboration experienced by occupants of his buildings. In fact, he says that he finds that the people who inhabit these buildings are "quite satisfied people who usually, once they have embraced the idea, carry it further than we have anticipated in the outset." His candid approach to environmental design inspires many and is summarized in his statement, "The greatest frustration is the widespread politically conservative argument that ecological thinking is economically counterproductive. The contrary is the case. One should accept that this will be a huge market in the near future."
Environmental Champion #2Josie BriggsStudio CeladonIn 1999, Briggs brought sustainable design to the forefront of the Seattle design and architecture community by planting the seed for GreenWorld™, a symposium on green design organized by the Seattle chapter of the IIDA. Under her direction, GreenWorld has grown tremendously since its inception and is now an annual and well-respected event in the Northwest. Briggs served as the IIDA chapter president in 2001-2002, and as the sustainability advisor to the chapter for the past few years. Her career has encompassed impressive work at prestigious Seattle design firms, as well as at her own firm, which she founded two years ago. She is widely regarded as a leading
sustainable designer and her work has been published in local design publications. She also serves as a sustainable design instructor at Bellevue Community College and the University of Washington. What most inspires Briggs to continue her work, she said, is
"observing the moment when someone begins to truly understand the philosophies of sustainability. As members of the design community, we have the ability to profoundly affect people's personal environments, as well as influence the natural environment through our building methods. Once we understand that everything is environmentally connected, it becomes apparent that we can make a difference through design and lifestyle. I find this sense of inclusion exciting, and it encourages me to push the envelope and strive for innovation."
Environmental Champion #3Randy Croxton & Kirsten ChildsCroxton Collaborative ArchitectsLong before it was fashionable, Croxton Collaborative Architects was designing green. Founded by Randy Croxton, FAIA in 1978, the firm has long been recognized as an early innovator in the field of sustainable architecture. Its first environmentally-informed project, completed in 1989 for the National Resource Defense Council headquarters, stands today as the seminal project that "turned the ship" by addressing the full ecology of the building: light, air, energy and human health and well-being. Of the project and its effect on him, Croxton says, "NRDC exemplifies the power of environmental intelligence effectively leveraged for change. Architecture seemed to be inspiration enough, but a larger vision, the resourceful integration of built and natural environments, ignited a self-sustaining quest." In recognition of his international standing, Croxton was invited to present another leadership project, Audubon House, at both the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio (1992) and the United Nations Social Summit in Copenhagen (1995). Kirsten Childs, ASID joined the firm as director of interior design in 1985 and has played a key role in developing Croxton Collaborative's sustainable agenda. Unique among interior designers, Childs recognized "the disturbing impacts caused by the design and construction process on all life, as well as on natural systems. I realized in 1987," she states, "that there was a way in which I, personally, could contribute to a restorative action in nature, which might begin to address this damage. Through the application of environmental/sustainable strategies, I could use my education and skills to diminish the impact of my work on this fast deteriorating natural world."Environmental Champion #4Mayor Richard M. DaleyCity of ChicagoWhat most people probably don't know about Chicago—yet—is that its mayor is firmly committed to making his town "the greenest and most environmentally friendly city in America." Why? Because, says Daley, during the 15 years that he's been mayor, "We've learned that protecting the environment makes sense both economically and politically. We've learned that we can actually save money—on taxes and on household and business expenses—by paying attention to the environment. At the same time, we enhance our quality of life, which builds pride in our city and helps us attract new employers, residents, tourists and conventions—all the ingredients of a strong local economy." Daley's scorecard looks pretty impressive. For example, over the last 11 years, the city has reduced daily water use by 160 million gallons. The city's new libraries and police stations have solar panels, reflective roofs and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, which reduce energy and operating costs. It operates nearly 200 alternative fuel vehicles, and the Center for Green Technology on the city's West Side is the first municipal building in the world to be awarded a LEED Platinum rating, and one of only six buildings worldwide with that distinction. Finally, the City Energy Plan, adopted in 2001, calls for 20 percent of the energy used by city facilities to come from renewable sources by 2006. An ambitious plan, but one Daley is sure to see happen.Environmental Champion #5Earth PledgeEarth Pledge FoundationIn the words of Leslie Hoffman, its executive director, Earth Pledge operates "in an urban atmosphere where the impact of human activity is extreme, and city dwellers are often disconnected from what sustains their lives. Earth Pledge works to reconnect people to the systems that support us by promoting innovative technologies that not only mitigate environmental problems, but also provide a bit of the 'wow' factor that
can reconnect us to nature in a life-enhancing way. We are inspired to facilitate a transition that is motivated to achieve long term security and health." Founded by Theodore Kheel in 1991 to stimulate interest in and support the upcoming 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and motivated by the findings of the summit, Kheel set the promotion of sustainable development as EP's primary goal. Despite its urban
setting, Earth Pledge is highly involved with sustainable agriculture through its Farm to Table and Sustainable Cuisine programs. It is perhaps best known, however, for its Green Roofs Initiative, which aims to lower New York City's ambient air temperature and prevent pollution in its waterways by creating a city-wide green roof infrastructure. "Our real interest," Hoffman states, "is to twiddle the imagination of people so that they start to see that life can actually be enhanced by struggling for sustainability. It's not about giving things up, it's about having an enhanced intellectual engagement with what it takes to really sustain life on this planet."
Environmental Champion #6Team at Envision DesignPLLCA Washington, DC-based multidisciplinary design firm with a focus on sustainability, Envision Design is involved in a broad range of project types both locally and nationally, including commercial interiors, retail space, base buildings, graphics and product design. Integral to the firm's design philosophy is the belief that sustainable design is more than just the specification of natural, renewable or recycled materials, but rather it is a synergistic effort to minimize the ecological impact of a building and improve the lives of the people who dwell within. "Our greatest inspiration is the growing awareness of the positive benefits of environmentally and socially responsible design strategies," says principal Ken Wilson. "Without awareness, you can't initiate change." Much of Envision Design's extensive experience has been for high-profile NGOs that share a common pro-environmental philosophy: Greenpeace, the United Nations Environment
Programme, Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense, the National Audubon Society and Friends of the Earth. With each project, the firm delivers increasing evidence that sustainable design does not diminish the vitality of the design. "We want to inspire other design firms to take our approach to sustainability and make it a priority for their practice," explains Wilson. To that end, members of the Envision team (half of which are LEED Accredited professionals) actively participate in various organizations within the environmental design community, and each year the firm funds scholarships for students to attend the EnvironDesign conference.
Environmental Champion #7Rebecca FloraGreen Building AllianceRaising public awareness about the need for green building has been central throughout Flora's career, most especially in her current role as executive director of the GBA, a non-profit that drives market demand for green building through education and project facilitation. What's more, she's highly effective and motivated for the task, earning the 2001 Three Rivers Environmental Award for her work. She's also a part-time economic development professor at the Heinz School for Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Her commitment to emphasizing environmental and social responsibility in traditional economic development practices was honed during her years at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh and again at the South Side Local Development Council, a non-profit community development corporation. It also was highly visible in her role on the project team overseeing the greening of Pittsburgh's $350 million Convention Center expansion. Her position as chair of that project's design commission earned her the Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitor Bureau's Award in 2001. "I am inspired," she said, "by the leadership of women in the environment, like Rachel Carson, who stood her ground ag&

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