All of us here at McLennan Design would like to send a special message to our community about the importance of Earth Day and the need for each of us to transform how we live, work and play, not only to diminish our environmental footprints – but also to increase the good we do in the world to heal, restore and regenerate our communities and the natural world around us. On a very personal note, I would also offer a tribute to a friend, mentor and colleague – Denis Hayes. On this day fifty years ago, Denis Hayes established the very first Earth Day, an event that raised awareness about environmental pollution and humanity’s global impact on natural systems and ignited a world-wide consciousness for the need to preserve our planet and its natural resources.

Over the last decade, I have had the great honor to get to know Denis and watch his incredible work and vision at play as we collaborated together on the creation of the Bullitt Center and on spreading the word about Living Buildings during his time on the ILFI board. Denis is a great friend and someone who has truly made the world better for all through his passion, intellect and philanthropic leadership. I count myself lucky to have worked so closely with Denis and to follow in his path. All of us in the environmental field today stand on his shoulders and a handful of trailblazers like him.

I know that Denis and a huge team of volunteers have been working incredibly hard to pull off the biggest Earth Day celebration ever on this anniversary – and yet no one could predict the impact Covid would have on our ability to congregate. As we remain apart, it is essential that we use this unprecedented time to begin thinking about life and our lifestyles in very different ways. I hope each of us can use this time to rethink old habits and commit to emerging from this season of isolation with new practices that do more good in the world. The time is ripe to invest in environmental causes as a unified community and develop solutions to the climate crisis that are lasting, transformative and profound.

If you’d like to learn more about Denis and the vision that began Earth Day fifty years ago, see this recent article from the New York Times.

Join me in pledging to do more good and to live more lightly, and let’s honor this critical day and make Denis proud! Happy 50th Anniversary Earth Day!

Jason F. McLennan

CEO, McLennan Design
Founder, Living Building Challenge