The Creator of Earth Day Unveils a Radical Environmental Vision for Cascadia

Denis Hayes will speak Monday, arguing that Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver can green the world.

By Randy Gragg May 20, 2016

20100419 earthday 3 large i9tfez

In 2013, Seattle’s Bullitt Foundation opened a new headquarters billed as the “most energy-efficient commercial building in the world.” Two years later, the $32-million, 50,000-square-foot building proved itself, generating 60 percent more power than it consumed.

 Now Denis Hayes, the foundation’s president and the founder of Earth Day, hopes to kickstart a transformation of the entire Cascadia region into an equally “deep-green” model of sustainability. In January, Hayes announced that the $110-million foundation will direct all of its resources toward the “Emerald Corridor Initiative,” an effort to “make Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver ‘leapfrog cities’ in much the same sense that the Bullitt Center is a leapfrog building—raising the bar for the planet by demonstrating what is possible.”

Hayes will share his vision for the initiative at the UO John Yeon Center’s series “Bright Lights: Conversations on the Future of the City.”

Toward a New Regionalism: The Emerald Corridor Initiative
A Conversation with Denis Hayes
6 pm, Monday, May 23
Jimmy Mak’s
221 NW 10th Ave
Doors open at 5:30 pm
Suggested admission: $10 (students welcomed for free)

The Emerald Corridor Initiative, Hayes says, “is not about adorning conventional cities with a few ‘bolt-on’ bike lanes, community gardens, and solar panels. Rather, we seek to help create integrated urban ecosystems designed to nurture humans to achieve their full potential. . . We envision an Emerald Corridor deeply committed to clean air, clean water, healthy food, non-toxic materials, resilient energy, efficient transport, and social equity. This is a big lift.”

The initiative begins this spring and will have five foci:

  • Energy, Climate & Materials
  • Regional Ecosystem Health
  • Resilient Cities, Healthy Communities
  • Deep Green Buildings
  • Thought Leadership and Innovation

Denis Hayes was the principal national organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970 and took the event international in 1990. It is now the most widely observed secular holiday in the world. As board chair of the international Earth Day Network, Denis is gearing up for the 50th Earth Day anniversary in 2020. Over the years, Hayes has been special assistant to the Governor of Illinois for natural resources and the environment; senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute; adjunct professor of engineering and human biology at Stanford University; Regents’ Professor at the University of California; and a Silicon Valley lawyer at the Cooley firm. Denis has been a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC and at the Bellagio Center in Italy. During the Carter Administration, Hayes was the director of SERI — the nation’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Filed under
Show Comments