The first Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 1970, was organized by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin), who was frustrated by the fact that, despite pollution being endemic across the country, environmental issues were absent from the U.S. political agenda.

On that inaugural Earth Day, more than 20 million Americans flocked to environmental rallies, modeled after anti-Vietnam War protests, as well as a “teach-in” on the state of the environment, led by activist Denis Hayes—spawning the birth later that year of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and earning Sen. Nelson the title “Father of Earth Day.”

Earth Day is now celebrated annually by more than 1 billion people in 180 nations, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Earth Day Network, founded by Earth Day’s original organizers. In 2010, when Earth Day celebrated its 40th anniversary, the movement began to shift from raising awareness to benchmarking progress in environmental improvements and energy efficiency.

Many members of the commercial real estate industry are observing Earth Day this year with specific celebrations, projects, programs or awards.

Google is this year’s recipient of CoreNet Global’s annual Sustainable Leadership Award. The award goes to a project that promotes the acceleration of the adoption and diffusion of sustainable and socially responsible real estate practices. Google’s singular goal is to create the healthiest workplace possible.

In 2010, Google piloted a program to encourage manufacturer transparency and to screen out potentially harmful chemicals in commonly-used building materials. That program became known as the Healthy Materials Program. Nearly three years later, the program has 3,863 products in its global library, nearly 61 percent of which meet Google’s health criteria.

At its offices throughout the world, Google is putting building products through rigorous screening processes to determine which meet their healthy building standards. Further, the company requires transparency from vendors concerning product ingredient information.

Jones Lang LaSalle Americasis launching a "How Are You Facing Climate Change?" employee photo contest to celebrate Earth Day. The contest invites employees to submit photos of themselves making a positive impact on climate change, whether at home or in the workplace, by recycling, biking instead of driving, etc. The top 10 entries will be posted on JLL's Green Blog for public voting, and the winner will receive a to-be-determined grand prize. JLL also will implement a communications campaign to educate employees about the company's commitment to sustainability, celebrate its achievements (e.g., more LEED Accredited Professionals than any company in the world) and further engage employees in the company's "ACT: A Cleaner Tomorrow" internal program that provides tools, tips and peer-to-peer resources for sustainability activities.

In addition, all of JLL’s Earth Day communications will be electronic—no more paper posters and signs. Many JLL offices in local markets are also planning their own Earth Day programs and/or helping facilities management clients implement programs in the client properties.

For instance, one major JLL client, KeyBank,is holding several events, including a discussion for employees on aligning profit and sustainability and an employee recycling day on April 25 which will include confidential paper shredding and electronics recycling. Keybank’s retail branches also held a recycling day with confidential paper shredding service for customers at selected KeyBank branches, and participated for the fourth year in a row in EarthFest 2013 in the City of Cleveland. This community event attracts 10,000 to 50,000 attendees annually.

CBRE Group Inc.is “working with property owner clients throughout the country to plan, implement and host a range of tenant/occupant events on their properties,” says CBRE’s New York City-based Senior Director Robert McGrath. Meanwhile, the firm is undertaking several sustainable projects. For instance, CBRE announced today that the firm’s Global Corporate Servicesgroup represented NYC Bike Share in a transaction totaling 39,200 sq. ft. with MWC Management Corp., at53rd Street and Third Avenuein Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The operators of the first bike-sharing program to come into existence in New York City selected the site because it enabled them to house all three aspects of their business in one place. The entire ground floor, consisting of 16,200 sq. ft. will be used as operational space for fixing bicycles. A call center will be housed in 8,000 sq. ft. on the second floor; the lower level of 15,000 sq. ft. will be used for parking the Sprinter vans, which will transport the bicycles back and forth to the bike stations around Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The tenant was represented by Alec Monaghan, first vice president, and Matthew Saker, senior vice president, both of CBRE’sEast Brunswick, N. J. office, with Bill Jordan, vice president, CBRE’s Long Island City office. The space is in a 46,000-sq.ft. industrial/flex building. The owner was represented by Michael W. Coleman, president of MWC Management Corp.

SL Green Realty Corp.ishonoring Earth Day this week by contributing to four separate events at properties within its New York City, Westchester County and Connecticut portfolios. In New York City, at 1515Broadway,SL Green will participate in Viacom’s Earth Day celebration, including electronic distribution of educational information and participation in a vendor trade show lobby event to share and explain its various sustainable initiatives. SL Green will highlight specific building programs, including its recent LED lighting retrofit, real-time energy management system, LEED Certified green cleaning, and encourage participation in building recycling.  On April 30, at 333 East 38th Street, SL Green Director of Sustainability Jay Black will present at New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Earth Day Event to promote education and awareness of its key sustainability programs, including green cleaning, energy management, recycling, and the building’s receipt of the U.S. EPA Energy Star Label for three consecutive years, followed by a Q&A. In Westchester County on April 25, Reckson Metro Center, 360 Hamilton Avenue, White Plains, SL Green tenants will celebrate Earth Day with an evening cocktail event from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Co-sponsored with Heineken USA and its “Brewing a Better Future” initiative, the main lobby will be transformed into an eco-lounge event, decorated with trees, lighting, artwork and dramatic visual displays, while tenants enjoy an evening of organic foods and environmentally-responsible beverages. Additionally, SL Green is a lead sponsor of the White Plains Earth Week for the fourth consecutive year.In Stamford, Conn. on April 24at 4 Landmark Square, one of the city’s most prestigious office parks, SL Green to host an eco-friendly tenant event from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the lobby. The program includes sustainable vendors exhibiting building initiatives, tenant raffles, organic food sampling and green products for sale.

SL Green’s most prominent event will be “Re-Green NYC,” to be held on Saturday, May 18, at Randall’s Island in coordination with Randall’s Island Park Alliance. The event is being co-hosted by New York Restoration Project and the Urban Air Foundation. As part of the Mayor Bloomberg’s MillionTreesNYC Program, a PlaNYC Initiative, 200 SL Green tenants and employees will have the opportunity to plant 100 trees as part of its Earth Day celebration.

Earth Day marks the opening of registration for SL Green tenants and employees to participate in the May 18 event by planting 6-ft. trees on Randall’s Island. Planting trees will help preserve the environmental footprint on the island, offering significant benefits like reduction of air pollutants, capturing carbon dioxide, stabilizing soil, preventing erosion and providing shade. One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces while driving 26,000 miles.