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Bill Clinton on greening buildings at Greenbuild 2007

At the U.S. Green Building Council's annual conference, Greenbuild 2007, Bill Clinton presented the keynote address focusing on green buildings and climate change.

What I heard was an unequivocal statement that addressing climate change through changed business practices including but not limiting to reducing carbon emissions attributable to buildings would be good for the economy and was an untaped opportunity with abundant profits available. The conference was attended by almost 23,000 people, up from 14,000 last year and 9,000 the year before. It has become clear that this is not just a movement, it is a tsunami.

President Clinton said: "This is the biggest economic opportunity that our country has had to mobilize and democratize economic opportunity since World War II," he said.

You can see the CNET coverage of Clinton's speech at:

Here is a selective summary of some of the highlights of Clinton's talk:

* Challenge / opportunity that is going to create jobs and businesses to create a sustainable planet to leave to our children and grandchildren.
* World is plagued by persistent economic inequality except in the countries that are going to meet their Kyoto targets.
* In Denmark, they grew their economy 50% without an increase in their GHG emissions. Wages are raising and inequality is falling.
* In Europe wages are rising without increasing inequality because of energy transformation.
* The UK is meeting their Kyoto targets.
* 75% of GHG come from urban areas. About 70% of those come from buildings. In NY , where the Clinton Foundation is headquartered,  it’s 80%.
* Clinton Foundation is in partnership with 40 cities to retrofit buildings; using energy services companies to save energy and money, and to use the savings to pay off the cost of the retrofits.
* The value of a couple of blocks of downtown Chicago is $5B. This capital is enough to finance the retrofits of a large fraction of downtown Chicago to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the inefficiency of the existing stock, the cost of energy, and the coming cost of carbon.
* Announced a program with the worlds biggest building – McCormack Place Convention Center.
* GE Real Estate -- $71B worth of real estate in their portfolio throughout the world. Now committed to retrofitting their holdings in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
* Prove through economies of scale that this can be done, others will follow your lead.
* 20% of population goes to school in America. Greening schools is another opportunity awaiting. Operational savings more than pay for the cost of retrofit in green schools.
* We have to keep score. Several years down the line, when people ask us what we did, we have to keep score so we can tell them what we did. We need to measure the baselines of performance and track our improvements over time.
* Staggering economic opportunity – greening for the benefit of the American dream, as well as to save the climate.