Al Gore delivered the keynote address to green building professionals at the Greenbuild conference. He praised the leadership of the USGBC for bringing real change to the marketplace.  He also urged the crowd to take responsibility for expanding green building globally and to call out greenwashing.

by Jessalyn Dingwell, Green Economy Post

On November 11, former Vice President Al Gore delivered a keynote speech to builders, architects, contractors and other professionals involved in the green building industry at Chase Field in Phoenix.  The speech marked the kick off of the US Green Building Council’s (USBGC) three-day conference convening over 24,000 attendees.

Gore praised leadership of the USGBC for bringing real change to the marketplace, and for being a leader in the change for a sustainable future. He noted his own home in Tennessee achieved the LEED Gold certification. He also thanked high school and college students around the country who have changed their course of study to one that will help solve the climate crisis. At the same time, he issued a call to action directed toward each member of the audience to personally strive to get involved in changing the future of our environment.

“We’re in a time now where we’ve got to make some big changes,” said Gore. “The green movement is growing leaps and bounds across the U.S. and the world—the green movement is not only good for the environment, but for the economy and national security.”

He mentioned outdated building codes that need updating as well as sweeping national legislation ensuring that homeowners do not bear all the upfront costs of building sustainable homes that will produce widespread benefits over the life of the home.  He also urged the audience to call out greenwashing, which he asserted distracts from the real solutions to climate change.

He spoke of three converging crises: the environmental impacts of climate change, the flailing economy, and national security. He identifies energy dependence on carbon-based forms of fuel as the driver behind all of these crises. Perhaps in response to a handful of protesters outside the stadium claiming that climate change was not real, he stated that even Americans that don’t believe climate change is real should support the vastly improved national security that comes from clean forms of energy that the US does not import from other countries. Additionally, Mr. Gore spoke of the economic benefits of retrofitting old, energy-guzzling buildings both in terms of reduced energy demand and increased green jobs.  He also urged the crowd to take responsibility for expanding green building globally.

Gore discussed and read excerpts from his new book on the environment, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis,  including imaginary letters to people in the future about what changes were made now to create a healthy and sustainable society in the years ahead.

Mr. Gore asserted that America has the technology and the ability to save itself and the world from these crises. He remains positive that the summit in Copenhagen next week will yield meaningful agreements between world leaders. He stated that all the US is lacking to make meaningful environmental and energy changes is the political will to do so, but indicated there was still room for hope.

“We’ve got to decide to seize control of our own destiny,” Gore said, closing with the line, “I know that we’re going to solve this, because in the United States, political will is a renewable resource.”

Along with four terms in Congress, two terms in the Senate, and two terms as Vice President, Gore has written the bestsellers Earth in the Balance, An Inconvenient Truth and the just-released “Our Choice.” Gore is chairman of the Emmy-award winning Current TV; chairman of Generation Investment Management, a firm focused on a new approach to sustainable investing; is a member of the board of directors of Apple; a senior adviser to Google; and a partner with the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. 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.

© 2009, Jessalyn Dingwell. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Jessalyn Dingwell (13 Articles)

Jessalyn Dingwell is an attorney and Green Building aficionado living in Washington, DC. A daring high school science fair project involving solar energy, an incredible amount of copper tubing, and a precarious rooftop fueled her lifelong curiosity and passion for renewable energy sources and building energy-efficiency. Jessalyn serves on several committees at the Women's Council on Energy and the Environment and frequently contributes to the Council's Water Committee programming. Prior to law school, she spent several years at the Corporate Executive Board providing marketing best practices to Fortune 500 companies in the US, then managing the European team based in London. Feel free to contact her at: