Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 01/30/2015

diaz_IMG_1593 Illac Angelo Diaz, Class of 2008
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Liter of Light

My thanks go to Wayne and Catherine Reynolds for the life-changing chance to study at the Kennedy School. Their support gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people and opened my eyes to so many possibilities. These are gifts that I try to pass on to as many people as possible.

Illac Angelo Diaz participated in the 2008 International Achievement Summit in Hawaii. At the time, Illac’s interest lay in an architectural response to climate change in developing countries, where the poorest sectors of society are most at risk, and least able to adapt to extreme weather events.

During his time at the Harvard Kennedy School, Diaz initiated the global competition Design Against the Elements, asking architects to design a safer habitat for at-risk communities. This initiative has led to almost 300 designs that can serve as a basis for architects to study and improve when they plan in this critical area.

He has gone on to design alternative schools and clinics around the ASEAN Region, using alternative materials such as stabilized soil (adobe), bamboo, plastic crates and recycled plastic bottles, cooperating with communities to lower building costs. ( He recently produced award winning designs at the Shanghai Biennale and in the Philippines.diaz_971824_564831916890978_1863789929_n

In his native Philippines, he created the Liter of Light program, the cheapest imaginable way to harness the power of the sun to light the homes of the world’s poorest communities.  In communities where electricity is unavailable or unaffordable, a recycled plastic soda bottle, filled with water and 10 milliliters of bleach, can be installed in the roof of a dark home, as a makeshift skylight. The bleach-filled bottle diffuses light throughout the room — equivalent to that of a 55-watt electric bulb — without electricity. The money saved on electricity or hazardous kerosene lamps enables most participants to purchase a solar lamp to provide an additional eight hours of light after sunset. These systems can be built with locally sourced materials, and distributed by grassroots entrepreneurs, building skills, livelihoods, and a green economy in underdeveloped communities without relying on imported, patented, expensive solar technology.

Community Built Solar Bottle Light :

Diaz’s Liter of Light won the 2012 Curry Stone Design Prize.

The MyShelter Foundation has now brought the Liter of Light program to 15 countries.


In January 2015, Illac Diaz received the Zayed Prize at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi for his work with Liter of Light. The World Future Energy Summit is the world’s foremost annual meeting committed to promoting the advancement of future energy, energy efficiency and clean technology by engaging more than 30,000 policymakers and business leaders from 170 countries.

Illac-Award-with-Sheikh-and-Egyptian-Prez_500 ZFEP-Winners-2015_500

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – January 19, 2015: HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice-President Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai (L) and HE Abdel Fattah El-Sisi President of Egypt (C) present the Zayed Future Energy Prize Non-Profit Organisation award to Illac Diaz, Executive Director of Liter of Light (R) during the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

(Donald Weber / Crown Prince Court – Abu Dhabi ) ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – January 19, 2015: (R-L, back row), HE Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber UAE Minister of State Chairman of Masdar and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), HH General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice-President Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HE Abdel Fattah El-Sisi President of Egypt and Al Gore Former, Vice President of the United States, stand for a photograph with winners of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). (Front row, L-R) Yoshihiko Yamada of Panasonic, Jesse Moore M-KOPA Solar, a representative from Munro Academy in Canada, student representatives from Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa in Swaziland, a representative from Petru Rares National College in Romania, Illac Diaz from Liter of Light, a representative from Melbourne Girls’ High School in Australia, and Ibrahim Nadheem, from Addu High School in the Maldives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: