Harvard community members who have made significant contributions to sustainability efforts on campus and beyond were honored at the third annual Green Carpet Awards in Sanders Theater Thursday afternoon.
University President Drew G. Faust said that she was glad that “sustainability is a goal that continues to unify us as one Harvard,” in a welcome video.
In addition to students, faculty, and staff who were honored as “Optimizers,” “Innovators,” “Educators,” and “Influencers,” the event honored Lester R. Brown, a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School.
Brown, who is the founder of the Worldwatch Institute and the founder and director of the Earth Policy Institute, received the Office for Sustainability’s first ever Distinguished Service Award.
“Carbon emissions in the United States are dropping,” he said. “They started to decline because of the economic downturn, but they have continued [to drop] for other reasons. And this, I think, is one of the most exciting developments anywhere.”
Brown attributed the continued drop in emissions partially to a demographic shift among gasoline consumers.
“People aren’t addicted to cars the way they used to be,” he said, adding that in his generation young people were eager to buy cars because they served as an important social space. Brown said that he believes that young people today buy fewer cars in part because they increasingly socialize online.
The award ceremony was emceed by Peter D. Davis ’12, who has also served as the master of ceremonies at the popular annual Harvard Thinks Big event.
“There are many people out there in this country who believe that those who believe in the environment and sustainability are a special interest group,” said Davis. “But I hope that this event can show that this is the exact opposite of a special interest.”
The ceremony also honored mechanical engineering professor Frederick H. Abernathy, who said that he thinks sustainability should be seen as both economic and environmental. Abernathy noted that he originally became involved in sustainability when the faculty considered tearing down William James Hall due to its energy costs.
At the event, Abernathy sported a bow tie with two shades of green.
“One is for the green carpet, and one is the green for money,” he said.
Robert Gogan, associate manager of recycling and waste, was dubbed Harvard Recycling Czar at the event.
Gogan stressed that Harvard’s recycling is a communal effort, noting that among other initiatives, the University has a project that refurbishes and sells old computers.
“Everyone recycles, everyone drinks water,” he said.
—Staff writer Alyza J. Sebenius can be reached at email@example.com.