On Monday evening, Global Green USA wrangled up a few famous folks — Carol Kane, Donna Karan, Maggie Grace, classically trained “Super Troopers” thesp Brian Cox, remarkably coiffed weatherman Sam Champion, and the always impassioned Judith Light to name a few — to honor the recipients of the 13th annual Sustainable Design Awards in New York City.


This year’s esteemed honorees — individuals and organizations committed to “tearing down the walls that stand in the way of a sustainable and secure world through their innovative design” — included Tony Award-winning playwright and V-Day founder Eve Ensler (Organizational Design Award); green-minded New York City real estate dynasty, the Rudin family (Green Building Design Award); and Greif, the company behind a collapsible water-transporting backpack for those living in developing countries called PackH2O (Industrial Design Award).


In addition to saluting some truly exceptional work and raising precious moola, the Sustainable Design Awards also provided Global Green's fearless leader Matt Petersen with a venue in which to announce a big new project.


At last year’s event in which Sprint, Starbucks, and Adrian Grenier were among the honorees (no Entertainment Design Award this year, eh?), the organization launched NOLA Wise, a comprehensive home weatherization program that joined one of several Global Green-managed rebuilding/revitalization efforts in New Orleans. This year, Global Green formally announced a scheme focused on rebuilding efforts in neighborhoods throughout New York and New Jersey that were hard hit by Superstorm Sandy. Under the leadership of Petersen, Global Green has been instrumental in the green rebuilding efforts in a ravaged, post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. The organization hopes to build on its experiences in New Orleans and have a similar impact in the areas most devastated by Sandy.


Thus far, Global Green’s plan of attack for aiding Sandy-affected communities will be comprised of three distinct initiatives:


Solar for Sandy: A partnership program with photovoltaic manufacturers, installers, and others to provide back-up solar systems for community centers, women’s shelters, and schools in hard-hit neighborhoods.


The Search for Citizen Sandy: An open call for Citizen Entrepreneur Challenge: Citizen Sandy, a program in which individuals are invited to submit their post-Sandy green rebuilding ideas. The winning idea is provided with $1,000 in seed funding and technical expertise from Global Green. More about the program and nomination process can be found here.


Greening Schools and Neighborhoods: “Taking our leadership and expertise to the planning level to look at infrastructure and how neighborhoods can come back stronger than ever with a call for proposals — funded by EPA — from devastated cities and boroughs.” More on Global Green's Green Schools program can be found here.  


In addition to aiding communities struggling to rebuild after Sandy, Global Green’s motivation is centered around protecting areas affected by rising sea levels brought on by climate change:


Global Green USA remains committed to protecting coastal cities like NY from sea level rise by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. An estimated 150 million Americans live in or near coastal cities and we must also address the urgent need to fight climate change and better protect coastal cities at risk from sea level rise, which worsens storm surge in severe weather events. 

Elaborates Petersen on the Global Green blog:


We need to help New York, New Jersey, and other devastated areas rebuild following Sandy with a focus first on helping those in greatest need and at risk. We must also address the urgent need to fight climate change and better protect coastal cities at risk from sea level rise, which worsens storm surge in severe weather events.


Why? 150 million Americans live in or near coastal cities.


A little over a year ago, I stood at the end of Manhattan in Battery Park to launch Global Green’s I AM campaign. We held signs reading “I AM NEW YORK” to send a signal that we are all connected, and need to all be concerned with what happens to communities thanks to sea level rise and climate change. Our PSA was launched to help people realize we need to stand in solidarity to push for action on climate change.


At that same spot we stood a year ago, 12 to 14 foot storm surge inundated Lower Manhattan. The message of our campaign is more poignant and important than ever. With extreme weather becoming the new norm and the impact of climate change on storms like Sandy finally being covered in the news, we can refocus on the urgent need to protect coastal cities from the threat of storm surge as a result of global warming.


Sea level rise is no joke and it must be taken seriously. We can — and must — prepare for the future.


Although I’m guessing more particulars on Global Green’s Sandy rebuilding efforts will come in time, you can read an outline of the plan of attack here. You can also, of course, donate to help support the organization’s post-storm initiatives in New York and New Jersey.

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