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Global Green Design Awards, Celebrities, Toast Cooper Union, PG&E, Sebastian Copeland and Others

TREEHUGGER. NOVEMBER 10, 2009. By Alex Pasernack

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Global Green Award Winners: Dr. George Campbell Jr., Mindy Lubber, Peter Darbee, Matt Petersen, Bonnie Reiss, and Sebastian Copeland

"Mr. Obama -- Tear down this carbon!" news presenter Miles O'Brien demanded in his speech at the Global Green Sustainable Design Awards last night in New York City, before an audience of benefactors and green luminaries. His reference to Reagan's famous call to Gorbachev, a few years before the latter would help usher the collapse of the Berlin Wall wasn't just timely, but poignant too. Gorbachev would go on to found Green Cross and Global Green USA, a celebrity-heavy organization that has most recently led green reconstruction efforts in New Orleans.

See photos of the winners and attendees below, including designer Nicole Miller, actor Brian Cox and architect Thom Mayne.

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Actor Tate Donovan (Damages, The OC) with his bike

The awardees, from the worlds of design, policy, industry and finance, said Matt Peterson, president of Global Green, had followed Gorbechev's "inspiring" example and "done a tremendous amount to help the environment and to move business forward in a green way." (See part one of our interview with Matt here.)

Gary Guzy, Deputy Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, applauded the honorees and the organization for its work, which he said complemented the work of the Obama administration.

"Through your work, you and Global Green are educating the public about what the possibilities are," he said.

The 2009 honorees, all of whom were present to take home their sustainably-sourced wooden trophies, were:


  • Ceres -- Mindy Lubber, President -- Organizational Design Award, for its work on creating a network of sustainable investors

  • The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art - Dr. George Campbell Jr., President -- Green Building Design Award, for the school's new academic building by Morphosis, 41 Cooper Square.

  • PG&E Corporation -- Peter A. Darbee, President, CEO, and Chairman -- Corporate Design Award, for the utility company's investments in and development of renewable energy projects

  • Sebastian Copeland -- Explorer, Photographer, Advocate -- Founders Award, for his documentation of climate change in Antartica and around the globe

  • Terry Tamminen and Bonnie Reiss -- Pegasus Sustainable Century Merchant Bank -- Policy Design Award, for their work guiding the state of California's environmental and renewable energy policies

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Thom Mayne, Dr. George Campbell Jr., Borough President Scott Stringer

In rousing speeches, each winner described their efforts to improve the environment, and underscored the work of everyday citizens and communities.

Peter Darbee, president and CEO of the California electric utility PG&E, called the fight against climate change "the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced." He said PG&E's pioneering efforts to green its grid beginning with his tenure in 2005 led people "to step back" at first. Since then, the numbers of business school students attending the company's recruitment presentations had risen by ten fold.

Darbee lamented the politicization of the discussion over climate and the environment, and issued a challenge: "How do we re-frame this issue so it's not political? How can we have a dialogue with those right of the center so we can talk about the science and put aside the politics that cloud people's minds?"

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Brian Cox, Nicole Ansari-Cox, Tony Plana

The Scottish actor Brian Cox, who lent his voice to the soon-to-be released Fantastic Mr. Fox, presided over the ceremony. He was joined by, among others, David Brancaccio host of PBS' Now, and Tony Plana from Ugly Betty. "I am Ugly Betty's carbon footprint," he quipped.

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Through a silent auction of some pretty fancy green-themed goodies, the event raised $400,000 to support Global Green's continuing green rebuilding of New Orleans homes, schools, and the Holy Cross Project, as well as its National Green Schools Initiative in Los Angeles and around the country.

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