Gathering for their 58th annual Solar Energy Conference, ASES members honored their most inspiring leaders tonight at a gala awards banquet. This year’s awardees ranged from pioneer-mentors like Bruce Brownell, an early practitioner for and advocate of passive solar design, to emerging professionals like Penn State University Ph.D. candidate Lucas Witmer.
ASES presented the Rebecca Vories Award to Paulette Middleton of Panaroma Pathways, in recognition of her outstanding volunteer work on behalf of the Society; the John and Barbara Yellott Award to Witmer, for his work to advance building system design; and the Hoyt Clarke Hottel Award to the University of Wisconsin’s Sandy Klein, for his contributions to educational software for solar system design and modeling. The Passive Pioneer Award went to Brownell, of Adirondack Alternative Energy, for his early recognition and application of passive solar design concepts. Ambient Energy’s Renée Azerbegi, recognized for her work in changing the relationship of people and buildings to solar resources and technologies, will be presented with the Women in Solar Energy (WISE) Award tomorrow at the annual WISE luncheon. ASES Board member and Technical Divisions Committee Chair David Comis was named an ASES Fellow for his years of exemplary service to the Society.
ASES awarded its highest honor, the Charles Greeley Abbot Award, to Henry Red Cloud for his work to improve the lives of Native Americans nationwide through the use of renewable energy. Red Cloud founded Lakota Solar Enterprises on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to produce an affordable, replicable solar air-heating system that saves tribal families 20 to 30 percent on their annual heating costs. In honor of past and future generations of Lakota people and of all the “solar warriors and warriorettes” in attendance, Red Cloud sang a Lakota song passed down from his grandfather and through the generations. For the song, about honoring the sun and its part in the water and life cycles, he asked those present to stand and contemplate their own part in this cycle of life, in preserving the earth’s resources and honoring the sun.
Laura Bankey, director of conservation at the National Aquarium, gave the keynote address. She described the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and its unique vulnerability to the effects of climate change, from sea level rise and extreme storm events to the hypoxia that can cause fish kills. For the National Aquarium, this growing threat has meant an evolution in how it engages its 1.5 million visitors per year. It has evolved from teaching about the region’s animals and their habitats to inviting visitors to join the Aquarium in efforts like planting trees and restoring wetlands. The Aquarium’s Thoughtful Choices campaign teaches visitors about conserving natural resources, reducing waste and building healthy communities.