The eighth annual conference of the U.S. Green Building Council -– Greenbuild –- has taken over Boston’s new Convention Center, bringing over 30,000 attendees to the South Boston waterfront. One of the most complicated things to do at this conference is to decide what to actually go to – during each time slot there are up 20 different sessions from which to choose. Tuesday was Member Forum and International Forum Day. The Conference proper began this morning with a keynote speech by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The USGBC Member Forum
The Member Forum Day is a tradition at Greenbuild. Employees of all member organizations are welcome to attend a plenary session and the USGBC business meeting free of charge. Last year, my first Greenbuild, I arrived too late to attend the Member Forum. This year’s plenary was first rate and got at the heart of the two key issues of our time –- the climate crisis and the economic crisis. The panel was moderated by Steve Curwood, executive producer and host of NPR’s “Living Earth” who asked a lot of challenging and insightful questions. The panel was composed of Ashok Gupta, air & energy program director and senior energy economist at the Natural Resources Defense Council; Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres (a coalition of investors and environmental leaders working to improve corporate environmental, social and governance practices) and Stockton Williams, senior vice president at Enterprise Community Partners.
Steve Curwood set the stage by asking the panelists to discuss how we impact climate change given the current debacle of the world economy. He rhetorically questioned whether we can pinpoint Hurricane Katrina as the bellwether event and harbinger of both climate change and the economic Armageddon. There is no doubt that the challenge is big, but to quote Ashok Gupta, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” The session began with a four-minute video of President-elect Barack Obama (taped for the Governors’ conference last week) discussing his policies for climate change. Obama proclaimed that we need to build a green economy and we must be aggressive and relentless. We must reduce our carbon footprint by 20% prior to 2020 and 80% by 2050.
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