Denis Hayes

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Denis Hayes
Denis Hayes (cropped).jpg
Denis Hayes, taken while director of the Solar Energy Research Institute (1979-1981)
Denis Allen Hayes

(1944-08-29) August 29, 1944 (age 74)[1]
Alma materStanford University
Kennedy School of Government
OccupationEnvironmental advocate
Known forCoordinating the first Earth Day,
founding the Earth Day Network, construction of the Bullitt Center

Denis Allen Hayes (born August 29, 1944)[1] is an environmental advocate and proponent of solar power. He rose to prominence in 1970 as the coordinator for the first Earth Day.

Hayes founded the Earth Day Network and expanded it to more than 180 nations. During the Carter Administration, Hayes became head of the Solar Energy Research Institute (now known as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory), but left this position when the Reagan Administration cut funding for the program. Since 1992, Hayes has been president of the Bullitt Foundation in Washington and continues to be a leader in environmental and energy policy. In 2015, he is completing a fellowship at the Robert Bosch Academy to write a book on solar energy.[needs update][2][3]

Hayes has received the national Jefferson Awards Medal for Outstanding Public Service as well as many other awards. Time Magazine named him as "Hero of the Planet" in 1999.

Early life and education[edit]

Denis Hayes was born in Wisconsin in 1944, but mainly raised in the small town of Camas, Washington, where in 2007 the Hayes Freedom High School was named in his honor.[4] His experiences growing up in the Pacific Northwest instilled a lifelong love of nature.[5] His father worked at a paper mill on the Columbia River, where both the discharges from the mill and the lack of worker protections showed Hayes the impact of industrialization on both people and the environment.[2]

In 1964, Hayes graduated from Clark Community College in Vancouver, Washington.[2] Hayes received his undergraduate degree in history from Stanford University,[6] where he was president of the student body and an activist against the Vietnam War.[7][8] During those years, he spent significant time backpacking to remote corners of the world.[9] Hayes later enrolled at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[10]

Earth Day[edit]

He left Harvard after being selected by Senator Gaylord Nelson to organize the first Earth Day.[11] The first Earth Day (April 22, 1970) had participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, about ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities.[12] It is believed that some 20 million demonstrators participated.[13][14] In 2009, the story of Earth Day was told in the film Earth Days[15] which closed that year's Sundance Film Festival.[16]

Following the success of the first Earth Day, Hayes founded the Earth Day Network and served as international chairman for Earth Day's anniversaries in 1990[17] and 2000.[18] Internationally, he is recognized for expanding the Earth Day Network to more than 180 nations.[19] It is now the world’s most widely observed secular holiday.[20] Hayes continues to chair the board of the international Earth Day Network and is the Chair of the Earth Day 2010 Global Advisory Committee.[21]


During the Carter Administration, Hayes became head of the Solar Energy Research Institute (now known as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory),[22][23] but left this position when the Reagan administration cut funding for the program.[24] Hayes went back to school and completed a Juris Doctor degree at Stanford Law School, and went on to become an adjunct professor of engineering in that university and litigator with law firm Cooley Godward.[25]

Since 1992, Hayes has been president of the Bullitt Foundation[26] in Seattle, Washington and continues to be a leader in environmental and energy policy.[27][28][29] By mobilizing the resources of The Bullitt Foundation, Hayes intends to make the Pacific Northwest the best-educated, most environmentally aware, most progressive corner of America—a global model for sustainable development. He is currently overseeing construction of The Bullitt Center, expected to be the greenest, most energy efficient commercial building in the world, firmly planting Seattle at the forefront of the green building movement. The goal of the Bullitt Center is to change the way buildings are designed, built and operated to improve long-term environmental performance and promote broader implementation of energy efficiency, renewable energy and other green building technologies in the Northwest. The building is seeking to meet the ambitious goals of the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most strenuous benchmark for sustainability. For example, a solar array will generate as much electricity as the building uses and rain will supply as much water, with all wastewater treated onsite. Also in Seattle are Hayes' wife, Gail Boyer Hayes[30] (daughter of Paul D. Boyer), and daughter, Lisa A. Hayes, a lawyer[31] defending the Northshore United Church of Christ regarding Tent City 4 (King County, Washington).

Over Hayes' career, he has been a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center,[32] a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute,[33] an adjunct professor of engineering at Stanford University, a Silicon Valley lawyer, and author.[34] He has served on dozens of governing boards, including those of Stanford University, the World Resources Institute, the Federation of American Scientists, The Energy Foundation,[35] Children Now, the National Programming Council for Public Television, the American Solar Energy Society, Greenpeace, CERES, and the Environmental Grantmakers Association.[36][37]


Hayes has received the national Jefferson Awards Medal for Outstanding Public Service[38] as well as the highest awards bestowed by the Sierra Club, The Humane Society of the United States, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Council of America,[39] the Global Environmental Facility of the World Bank [2], the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and the American Solar Energy Society.[40] He was featured in the documentary film, Earth Days. Time Magazine has named him as "Hero of the Planet."[41]

Hayes was selected by Engineering News-Record as one of the Top 25 Newsmakers of 2014 for using biomimicry in the development of the Bullitt Center.[42]


  1. ^ a b United States Public Record Number 214375543
  2. ^ a b c Post, Nadine M. (August 5, 2015). "Denis Hayes Shines Rays of Hope on More-Sustainable Cities and Solar Power's Future". BNP Media. Archived from the original on August 25, 2015. Page 2 archived from the original. Page 3 archived from the original. Page 4 archived from the original. Page 5 archived from the original.
  3. ^ Robert Bosch Academy, Denis Hayes. 2015.
  4. ^ We're growing, building and moving! Archived 2008-05-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Talking with Denis Hayes, president and CEO, Bullitt Foundation, Puget Sound Business Journal, April 20, 2007,
  6. ^ Stanford University
  7. ^ Stanford University under siege, Palo Alto Online, April 13, 1994,
  8. ^ Marking the day 40 years ago when the green revolution began, Idaho Statesman, April 18, 2010,
  9. ^ Seattle Times, April 21, 2002,
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ DENIS HAYES: Mr. Earth Day Gets Ready to Rumble, Time Magazine, April 26, 1999,,9171,990846,00.html?internalid=ACA
  12. ^ History of Earth Day
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Video on YouTube
  17. ^ New York Times, April 22, 2000,
  18. ^ New York Times, April 23, 2000,
  19. ^ New York Times, April 9, 2000,
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  21. ^ Global Advisory Committee Members,
  22. ^ National Renewable Energy Laboratory History, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-08-31. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  23. ^ NREL News Feature, April 19, 2010, First Earth Day Organizer Bullish on Renewables,
  24. ^ Treading Lightly, One small step at a time, Seattle Post Intelligencer, April 21, 2002,
  25. ^ Environmentalists Weigh Achievements, Challenges, Los Angeles Times, May 30, 1985,
  26. ^ Bullitt Foundation website,
  27. ^ Climate Solutions: Charting a Bold Course Archived 2009-10-01 at the Wayback Machine., Yale Environment 360 Journal, June 10, 2008
  28. ^ The Rumpus Interview with Earth Day Organizer Denis Hayes, The Rumpus, April 22, 2009,
  29. ^ ACORE, American Council on Renewable Energy Archived December 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ Author of Solar Access Law,
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  32. ^ Woodrow Wilson Center website,
  33. ^ World Watch Institute Website,
  34. ^ Rays of Hope (1977) and The Official Earth Day Guide to Planet Repair (2000),
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-16. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
  36. ^
  37. ^ Denis Hayes biography,
  38. ^ The Jefferson Awards are a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. They began in 1972 to create a Nobel Prize for public service.
  39. ^
  40. ^ Denis Hayes Biography from Natural Resources Defense Council,
  41. ^ Time Magazine, April 21, 1999, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  42. ^ Post, Nadine M. (January 21, 2015). "Developing a Model for Office Buildings To Rely on Nature for Their Needs". Dodge Data & Analytics. Archived from the original on August 25, 2015.

External links[edit]