2012 Odebrecht Award

The winners of the 2012 Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development were unveiled at an Oct. 16, 2012 award ceremony in Houston, where Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop per Child, gave the keynote speech encouraging curiosity, imagination, passion, creativity, and the ability to see things from multiple points of view as instruments of change. Mayor Annise Parker also addressed the audience, highlighting that Houston too thrives on dreams, from building a port – even though the city is miles away from the ocean – to sending men to the moon. In line with its organizational dedication to sustainability, Odebrecht committed to making the awards ceremony carbon-neutral by purchasing carbon offsets for all the guests’ travels.

Video: 2012 Winning Projects

Video: 2012 Winning Projects

Video: 2012 Ceremony Highlights

Video: 2012 Ceremony Highlights

2012 Winners

Rice University (2012)


Addressing the Logistical Crisis of Offshore Oil Extraction: A New Model of Water-Based Urbanism in the Pre-Salt Region off the Southeast Coast of Brazil.

Students: Joanna Luo, Weijia Song, Alexander Yuen

Advising Professor: Neeraj Bhatia

Executive Summary

This report details the findings of research through the design of a new model of urbanism centered on offshore oil extraction. The project is situated in the Southern Atlantic, along the coast of Brazil where exploration and drilling in the pre-salt of the Campos and Santos Basins is under way. This initiative for the project is propelled by a desire on the part of the Brazilian energy company Petrobras to relocate the region’s workforce offshore ... on ‘floating frontier islands’, as rigs are set up increasingly further from shore. Design and research occurred at two scales: those of the masterplan and the island. The masterplan stretches along a territory approximately 600km long around a high concentration of oil rigs. The proposed system relies on centralized pipelines as opposed to shuttle tankers to readdress how oil is transferred from rig to land. Several types of stationary and moving islands are proposed to establish a region that is able to serve ongoing oil extraction and sustain an expected population of 50,000. While each island serves a specific purpose, they are each tied together by the masterplan so as to create a system that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

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Johns Hopkins University


PEGASUS Project: Paper for Education, Growth, and Sustainability – Ethiopia

Students: Jay Hyug Choi, Sangkyun Cho, Victor Hyun Oh

Advising Professor: Erica Schoenberger

Executive Summary

One of the most pervasive problems in education in developing countries is the lack of basic academic supplies such as paper, notebooks, and pencils. Stationery supplies are simply too expensive for millions of families that live on less than two dollars a day, and this is one of many socioeconomic factors that contribute to plummeting elementary school attendance rates and poor learning environments for children. The proposed Pegasus project aims to alleviate this problem by providing ... underprivileged communities with a small-scale papermaking machine that recycles agricultural waste to produce pulp. It has been designed to specifically target Ethiopia, where more than 70 percent of the population is illiterate, the economy is heavily agriculture-based, and deforestation is severe. With adequate supply of paper, children will have the opportunity to become more engaged in their education and will be better equipped to cultivate basic skills necessary for future productivity and employment. While the main focus of the project is education, it is Pegasus’s driving philosophy that a technological intervention must also create economic and environmental benefits in order to promote sustainability. Thus the project has been designed to open new markets and employment opportunities for Ethiopian farmers, while minimizing harmful impacts to the environment.

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North Carolina State University


Recyclability of Oil Contaminated Cardboard

Students: Nicole Santos, Richard Figueroa, Monica Golike

Advising Professor: Melissa Pasquinelli

Executive Summary

This article addresses the challenges faced when recycling paper products after they have come in contact with oils and other contaminants from food. Although the recycling process that is currently used breaks down cardboard to the fiber level for production of new paper products, oil contaminants seep into the core of these fibers making them unsalvageable. If used, these fibers contaminate products made from recycled material degrading their mechanical and aesthetic properties. This article focuses ... on the recyclability of pizza boxes and proposes three different solutions: addition of a detergent bath to the recycling process, a starch coating to cardboard boxes, and using recycled fibers in a composite alternate uses. These proposed changes will increase the sustainability of paper products in terms of their use in the food packaging industry.

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Special Recognition

Special Recognition

Florida International University

Nicholas Negroponte


Harvey M. Bernstein

Mcgraw-Hill Construction

Vice President, Industry Insights & Alliances

John Briscoe

Harvard University

Professor Environmental Engineering

Manny Diaz

Lydecker Diaz

Senior Partner

Scott Kirkpatrick

Coast Builders Coalition


Paula Loomis

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Sustainability Program Manager

Brooke Weizmann

American Chemistry Council

Director of Sustainability/ Responsible Care

Tom Couling

Zachry Construction Corporation

Corporate Manager, Environment

Marie Martinko

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

Director, Industry Affairs - Environment & Health

The Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development helps bridge the gap between the academic and corporate worlds, and find solutions that promote sustainability via the transfer and application of technology into the operational practice of business, especially in the areas where the Odebrecht Organization operates.