Denis Hayes

From EarthDay Everywhere to Proving the Possible with Denis Hayes

Episode 2

Play episode

Hosted by
Ron Kamen

Ron Kamen has decades of expertise & leadership in catalyzing exponential change in sustainable energy adoption with communities, governments, non-profits, and businesses.

Denis Hayes dropped out of Harvard in 1970 to become the national coordinator of the first Earth Day– and expanded Earth Day to 180 nations where it is now the most-widely-observed non-religious holiday in the world.  


  1. “If it has been done, it must be possible.” While everyone said it was impossible, Denis developed the first 6 story 52,000 sq ft building to be Net Energy Positive– it creates more energy than it uses. 
  2. Most of the things we need to do are simple– become super-efficient and let the forces of nature provide our power.
  3. We live in a SEA OF ENERGY. If it wasn’t for the sun, it would be hundreds of degrees below zero. The furnace just tops it up.
  4. Utility scale “Solar On Demand” (Solar with batteries) is now the lowest cost power in the US.

Worst Clean Energy Moment. During the Arab Oil Embargo, Denis promoted that we do for solar electricity  what Nasa & the defense department did for computer chips– buy in bulk and drive down prices.  There was Good & Bad News.

“Ah HA!” moment. “Energy is the capacity to do work.” Drying clothes outside takes as much energy as in the dryer. But we don’t pay for the sun and air to dry our clothes. 

Best Advice Ever.  When you hit the wall with a complex problem– take a break. Go into nature, do something else. When you come back– you’ll have the answer.

Personal Success Habit. Pessimism provides no survival advantage– it only leads to giving up. There is always hope– even in the face of incredible challenges (like Churchill in England during WWII).

Internet Resources., The New Yorker cartoon page,  & the Borowitz Report satire

WTF or F. Siberia in winter without a coat. 

What Energizes Today. The Green New Deal. The Cares Act $3 Trillion was passed with only a few weeks debate to avoid economic catastrophe. If we can come together and decide that we are going to make the transition to a super efficient renewable energy powered civilization. 

Last Advice. Even when everything is stacked against you–never give up.

Sponsors. Entrepreneurs on Fire.

More from this show

Episode 2