1. Shai Agassi, CEO, Better Place
A former software entrepreneur, Agassi is leading the pack on electric vehicle charging stations. His vision: battery-powered vehicles made by Renault-Nissan, a vast network of charging stations, and a cell phone-like pricing scheme. The project has potential, at the very least–a recent analysis from Deutsche Bank concluded that Better Place has the potential to create a paradigm shift in the auto industry.
2. John Swanson, Light Rail Designer, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Railroads may not be as sexy as electric cars, but they’re an integral part of a low-carbon future. That’s why Swanson, the light-rail sector’s top design consultant, is so important. Swanson’s new cars for Phoenix, Arizona’s light rail system have been climate-tested at up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, contain energy-capture brakes, top-of-the-line shock and noise absorbers, LED lights, and ergonomic interiors. Stay tuned for more Swanson-designed light rail cars in Honolulu, Seattle, and Dubai.
3. Jane McGonigal, Director of Game R&D, Institute for the Future
She’s a game designer with a mission. McGonigal’s alternate reality games use large-scale collaborative communities to solve real-world problems. The 2007 A World Without Oil simulation, for example, harnesses the collective intelligence of players to tackle our dependency on the slippery stuff through blog posts, videos, photos, web comics, and more.
4. Larry Chen, Manager, T-One Design
Trained as an aeronautical engineer, Chen decided to harness his structural skills to build the Sunny Day, a compact solar-powered electric commuter bicycle. The tiny solar chip pumps the bike’s battery for 25 minutes of charge time, and juices it up for the eight hours while you’re at work. As a result of his innovative design, Chen won the annual International Bicycle Design Competition.
5. Jessica Buttimer, Director, Green Works, Clorox
Buttimer brought natural cleaning products to the mainstream with Clorox’s Green Works line, the company’s first new brand in 20 years. When Buttimer started thinking about the prospect of the new line, natural cleaning products made up just 1% of the total cleaning category. Now the Green Works line extends from cleaning wipes and dishwashing liquid to toilet bowl cleaners and bathroom cleaners.
6. Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla Motors
Musk has caught flack for building electric vehicles that only the richest among us can afford, but the South African entrepreneur has certainly created an atmosphere of excitement in the EV world. Next up for Tesla: The Model S, an all-electric sedan with a range of 300 miles and a 45 minute QuickCharge.
7. Will Allen, CEO, Growing Power
In Allen’s perfect world, Community Food Systems would provide safe, healthy, and affordable food to everyone. This urban farming expert is trying to move a little closer to that world with Growing Power’s Community Food Centers–spaces for large-scale farming demonstration projects and hands-on activities. Growing Power’s prototype facility in Milwaukee, Wisconisin includes six greenhouses, outdoor livestock pens, an anaerobic digester, and an apiary.
8. Mary Mattingly, Designer, Waterpod
This New York City-based artist, known for her “wearable homes”, designed the Waterpod as a response to rising sea levels. Her floating model of self-sufficiency is now a reality, docking at various NYC ports for the next five months to show off its on-board sustainable technologies to curious onlookers.
9. Craig Bramscher, CEO, Brammo
The founder and former CEO of Internet start-up DreamMedia, Bramscher has extended his entrepreneurial spirit to electric motorcycles. Now Bramscher wants to “drive change in the New Energy Economy” with the Enertia Electric Motorcycle, a sleek plug-in bike that gets up to 45 miles per charge. Most recently, Brammo won a $17,655 eBay auction to have Crispin Porter + Bogusky interns design an ad campaign.
10. June Arunga, Equity Partner, Black Star Lines
This 28 year-old Kenyan is exposing the effect of globalization and development on Africa through film. In The Devil’s Footpath, Arunga made a 5,000-mile pilgrimage from Cairo to Cape Town, exploring the realities of the war zones, mining towns, and refugee camps she found along the way.
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