PHOENIX — The U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference & Expo opened the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 11, at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, when David Kohler, president and chief operating officer of Kohler Co., and USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi spoke to an audience of more than 28,000, stressing the importance of green building.
“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,” continued Fedrizzi. “And no one has more power to drive that change than those of us here tonight in Diamondback Stadium.”
David Kohler spoke to attendees about Kohler’s history regarding the green building movement and why the company is conscientious of it. Kohler is committed to a philosophy of environmental, social and economic responsibility, and sustainability is an ongoing journey, focusing on three strategies — environmental footprint, education and product innovation.
Vice President Al Gore was the evening’s keynote speaker. He called on the audience to make the choices required to ensure that they leave a better earth for their children. Gore has championed awareness and action to confront global climate change since his earliest days in the U.S. Congress 30 years ago, and is regarded for his pioneering role in helping put one of the most important challenges of the times on the map, with his book and 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.
The opening event closed with a performance from singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow.
Archived video footage from the Greenbuild Opening Keynote & Celebration can be viewed at GreenbuildExpo.org. Events and sessions at Greenbuild included presentations by seven master speakers, more than 150 educational sessions, and a closing event, featuring a keynote address by the Assistant to President Obama for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner.
USGBC’s annual Greenbuild Conference is the world’s largest green building conference and expo, connecting the green building community to education, innovative ideas, resources and opportunities. This year, Greenbuild featured three days of educational programming, workshops, an exhibition floor with over 1,800 booths, a green job fair, networking events and opportunities to learn about the latest sustainable technologies and products.