Sanergy wins Lemelson Foundation and NCIIA’s Inaugural Sustainability Award



On March 23rd, the Lemelson Foundation awarded Sanergy its inaugural Sustainable Practice Impact Award – given by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) and funded by theLemelson Foundation at the NCIIA’s annual Open Minds conference. We are just so honored to have been recognized for our work by the pre-eminent foundation that focuses on innovation and invention and by the NCIIA, who have supported us since our beginnings at MIT.

Nathan Cooke, co-founder of Sanergy and an instructor at MIT’s D-Lab, represented Sanergy at the conference. He shares his takeaways today on our blog:

Sanergy co-founder Nathan Cooke at Open Minds. Photo courtesy of EpiCenter.
Sanergy co-founder Nathan Cooke at Open Minds. Photo courtesy of EpiCenter.

“The Open Minds fair held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History was a great interactive experience. Most of the time, I talk with people who love technical conversations about sanitation. Here, I got to talk with a lot of regular people about Sanergy and sanitation. Relating the work we do with Sanergy to those who don’t deal with it – the waste, the slums, the idea of having no clean, safe toilet – every day always leads to interesting conversations. Many were surprised to find out that people in Kenyan slums have to pay to use even the most unsanitary toilets available in the community. Others were surprised to learn that we could turn human waste into fertilizer and electricity. This second fact was not really a stretch for most people, because many of them have some level of familiarity with compost, whether it was in their own backyard or their grandmother’s, but they were surprised that it isn’t big business in the US yet. And, of course, this led to the question, “When are you launching here?”

At the evening ceremony, I felt proud for everyone at Sanergy to be recognized as the first winner of the Sustainable Practice Impact Award among companies that NCIIA has supported like Natural Composites, Clean NG and Ecovative Design. Being awarded for our achievement in developing a clean technology, and implementing sustainable practices into our business is a reminder of the importance of the environmental benefits inherent in our work. I find that my personal motivation in being with the company is primarily motivated by the social aspect of providing sanitation to people. While the human component is an important aspect of our sustainability, receiving the award reminds me of how Sanergy is working to reduce the impact that humanity is having on the planet by taking a waste material and turning it into a resource.

Thanks to the Lemelson Foundation and the NCIIA and MIT for helping to develop Sanergy and for recognizing all the hard work that we have put in to make our company sustainable.

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