In New York this week, Global Green USA recognized actor Adrian Grenier, Sprint, Fisker, Starbucks, and 350.org at their 12th annual Sustainable Design Awards. While the non-profit may be more well known for their star following and celebrity supporters, the event brought Global Green's environmental initiatives to light and celebrated notable achievements in green design this year. TreeHugger was on the scene to get the inside scoop:
Hot off the heels of a trip to Haiti, Global Green president and CEO Matt Petersen kicked off the evening with introductory remarks that focused on the non-profits' commitment to working with communities in distress. In Haiti, Global Green USA has helped Habitat for Humanity build green homes. During an organic dinner, Petersen discussed how raised funds helped support initiatives such as composting latrines and solar-powered community lighting; they have built 100 homes and have a goal of reaching 500.
From San Bruno, California, which lost 38 homes to a natural gas pipeline explosion, where Global Green is helping rebuild green homes to Youngstown, Ohio, where they are working to create urban farms, Peterson remarked that they are invested in energy efficiency in existing buildings and indoor quality health. He said that while Global Green's projects can seem spread across different issues, their work is, in short, all about "the other." He elaborates, below.
Whether it's in Haiti helping people you've never met and I've never met or in Youngstown, or in San Bruno, or in New Orleans, or future generations, or in the Congo with the women who are facing such great challenges there, or you name it across the world, Global Green's approach is unique because we are helping the other: the future generations to have a healthy future and the others to improve their lives with environmental solutions and eradicating poverty.
In the Corporate Design category, Henrik Fisker of Fisker Automotive CEO accepted an award for the Fisker Karma. The Fisker Karma is about "creating a desirability," Fisker said. "Environmentally friendly products have to be desirable in order to get mass markets to buy into them."
Fisker noted that Fisker Automotive has created more than 2,000 jobs in the US and told a story about company-wide recycling: They bought an old, shut down General Motors factory in Delaware to house full production of their next car, which will be half the price of the Fisker Karma, in 2013. They found beautiful old wood that they will reuse in the car interiors.
The evening also recognized Adrian Grenier, who brought home an award for his work with SHFT.com, a media outlet pioneering eco-friendly life style; Steve Elfman, Sprint President of Network Operations and Wholesale, on behalf of Sprint for their eco-friendly phone, the Samsung Replenish, which is made from 82% recyclable materials; Arthur Rubinfeld, Starbucks President of Global Development, on behalf of Starbucks for the company’s global sustainability initiatives, including achieving LEED certification for all new company-owned stores beginning in 2010; and Bill McKibben and May Boeve, co-founders of 350.org, for their "efforts to raise awareness about the most threatening issue of our time: climate change."
The event hit an on-cue sentimental note when a personal story of a woman named Ms. Shirley, who Global Green helped in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, was read to attendees. It was appropriately followed with a live auction-style call for donations--this is a non-profit, after all. Tom's of Maine kicked off the donations with $20,000 in honor of Adrian Grenier and the evening raised close to $500,000 total in support of Global Green's initiatives.
While the event was well produced, it was too produced at times. Presenters and award winners read rehearsed lines from prompters, which came across as lacking in sincerity. Specially produced videos for the evening, featuring each award winner, begged the question of how much money was spent on the awards show. But, at the end of the night, the evening was a celebration of the work and achievements of award winners who are working toward a more sustainable future. Perhaps Henrik Fisker said it best: "Events like this bring attention to the fact that the future looks bright, it's not about sacrificing, it's about going out and doing something."