If you went to the American Southwest this fall perhaps you got to see Al Gore and Sheryl Crow. But they weren’t the main attractions. Green building took center stage. The former vice-president and the singer/songwriter were on hand this month for the world’s largest conference dedicated to green building--Greenbuild 2009.
Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and held in Phoenix, Arizona, the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo ran from November 11-13. According to the conference’s website, Greenbuild 2009 drew more than 27,000 attendees from all over the world for three days of outstanding educational sessions, renowned speakers, green building tours, special seminars, and networking events.
Phoenix’s unique environmental and social characteristics spoke to the diversity of the United States and the imperative of Greenbuild 2009: Green building can and must come home to all people, boosting the quality of life across the country and around the world.
According to scientists at Berkeley Lab, buildings in the U.S. consume 72 percent of the country's electricity, 55 percent of the natural gas use, account for about 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and cost $350 billion per year. Therefore, reducing the GHG emissions associated with buildings is essential to reducing overall emissions; and one way to do this is by constructing green buildings or retrofitting older ones.
Greenbuild kicked off with a bang with Gore speaking to a packed crowd. Then USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi took to the podium, speaking to an audience of more than 28,000 stressing the importance of green building and human health.
“Our work should not be defined solely by the number of LEED certified homes, offices, schools and neighborhoods,” Fedrizzi said in his opening remarks. “It is about the people inside of them. Green building is about the families who must weigh their power bill against their grocery bill; it’s about workers who labor in buildings that take a toll on their bodies and spirits; and it’s about kids who spend their entire childhoods in toxic classrooms. We have the power to make choices that will fundamentally change the environment, and people’s lives, for the better. And no one has more power to drive that change than those of us here tonight in Diamondback Stadium.”
Gore, the evening’s keynote speaker, called on the audience to make the choices required to ensure we leave a better earth for our children.
The former Vice-President has championed awareness and action to confront global climate change since his earliest days in the U.S. Congress 30 years ago. He is regarded for his pioneering role in helping put one of the most important challenges of our time on the map, with his best-selling book and Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
In 2007, Gore was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for his environmental activism. In 1992, Gore published “Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit” and instituted environmental policy and initiatives in the Clinton-Gore Administration to help safeguard the environment. He is also a Visiting Professor at Middle Tennessee State University and chairs the Alliance for Climate Protection, a non-profit organization designed to help solve the climate crisis.
After Gore's address, the opening night of Greenbuild 2009 closed with a performance from singer/songwriter Crow. Whether working with First Lady Michelle Obama, promoting new energy efficient technologies, or forging innovative programs with partners ranging from the grassroots to Fortune 500 companies, nine-time Grammy winner Crow is noted for her effective and informed advocacy on behalf of our environment.
“Performing at Greenbuild is like being on the international stage of the green movement, celebrating with you the progress we’re making on this important issue,” Crow said.
Buildings play a critical role in protecting and improving our environment and the health of the people who occupy them. Greenbuild provides an unparalleled opportunity to connect with other green building peers, industry experts, and influential leaders as they share innovations in the green building movement.
The 2008 Greenbuild Conference was selected by Tradeshow Week, the premier news magazine of the exhibition industry, as one of the 50 fastest growing trade shows in the U.S. and Canada. Greenbuild 2008 was held in Boston and drew more than 28,000 attendees and featured 800 exhibit booths.
Greenbuild is the largest gathering of representatives from all sectors of the green building movement and is the three time recipient of the IMEX Green Meetings Award.
In addition to the impressive collection of master speakers, Greenbuild 2009 featured more than 100 educational sessions, LEED and Education Provider workshops, off-site educational sessions, a two-day Residential Summit, and tours of local green buildings throughout the Arizona area. One thousand exhibitors showcased some of the leading technologies and products in green design, construction and operations.
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