Edward Norton

Actor, 38

Feb 29, 2008
Outside Magazine

"I don't believe in stepping out front on matters that you're just getting educated on," says Edward Norton. "I gravitate toward topics on which I have something to contribute." For Norton, a lifelong environmentalist whose father, Edward Sr., was the senior adviser for the Nature Conservancy's China program, that's meant throwing his weight behind a litany of issues, like the greening of affordable housing. While growing up in Chesapeake, Maryland, Norton volunteered at the Enterprise Foundation, a nonprofit started by his grandfather, the philanthropist James Rouse, that provides housing for low-income communities. Norton, who sits on the board of trustees, convinced Enterprise to start the Green Communities Initiative, a $550 million commitment to make affordable housing more sustainable nationwide. In 2003, Enterprise partnered with the energy company BP Solar to launch its Solar Neighbors program, which donates a full solar setup to a low-income Los Angeles family for every solar system a celebrity buys.

At home, the Manhattan-based Norton is a founding board member of Friends of the High Line, an advocacy group working to establish a public park on an abandoned train line on the city's West Side. "Creating a green space in Manhattan isn't a high-crisis issue," says Norton, who doesn't own a car and takes public transportation. "But you have to tune in to what's relevant in your community." Next up: Hollywood. While filming The Incredible Hulk: Part 1 in Toronto this fall, Norton (who bulks up in a digitally engineered green suit for the role) attempted to reduce the film's footprint by cutting back on paper waste, eliminating idling vehicles on set, and exploring the development of a film-production carbon calculator. "I wouldn't say we've achieved any meaningful success yet," he says. "But sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other and start."

Filed To: Culture

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