Greenbuild day three: What a night
If I were a sailor instead of the president and CEO of this organization, and if this were, say, a street corner instead of the official web site of the USGBC, I might be inclined to say simply, “Holy @#*^!”
Seriously my friends...what a night!
Day Two of Greenbuild ’13 was truly unlike any I had ever really experienced since we started this conference over 20 years ago (and I’ll post more when I get a moment). But the night that followed the day that was, arguably, the most amazing and unexpected in Greenbuild history (and, again, I’ll explain what I mean by that later today or tomorrow) somehow managed to find an even higher gear.
The reason, of course, was USGBC being honored by the presence and insight of the inimitable Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, former Senator from New York, former candidate for the U.S. Presidency and former Secretary of State. But if that weren’t enough, we then got treated to a blistering set of rock classics one of Philly’s favorite sons, Bon Jovi, the man and his band.
All in all, just an amazing night, one that has my head still spinning as I write this.
And for those of you who missed it, let me just offer some of what I thought were the most salient points of Ms. Clinton’s speech last night and the subsequent Q&A:
The Clintons and USGBC are related in spirit, and that is underscored not only by the work both of us have done in places like Haiti (where the orphanage and children’s center we helped bring to life was subsequently named in honor of President Clinton), but by the fact that the President won the White House for his first term the exact same year we launched as an organization.
America must continue and even increase its investment in infrastructure spending and retrofitting existing structures and building, because by doing so will mean jobs that can’t be outsourced, a stronger backbone to our supply chain, greater public health, stronger neighborhoods, reduced toxins and, perhaps most of all, far greater educational achievement.
As Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton decreed that all U.S. embassies around the world achieve at least Silver LEED certification. She said during her tenure she felt it was critical the U.S. show the rest of the world that it was willing do put its money where its mouth was. She said she called her initiative, “Greening Diplomacy.”
After detailing a handful of our achievements and a few landmark moments in sustainability, Ms. Clinton quickly changed horses and said we must do better, and in a way even challenged us to do so. She said we don’t need a full generation to change the world. We can do it in a half a generation. She also said we need to be better organized and more focused, and we must create a new series of partnerships in order for us to achieve our mission.
And finally, she urged all in attendance to leave Greenbuild 2013 committed to making the case of sustainability to even more people.
During the Q&A, one of the things I found most fascinating was Ms. Clinton’s contention that for all the growth and development in places like China and India (but not limited to China and India), three things continue to concern her: leaders in so many countries have yet to find a way of balancing their desire for continued growth with a realistic way of embracing sustainability; the environmental already damage done to so many developing countries in the form of drained lakes and deforested tracts of land, both of which have led to massive erosion and other natural disasters; and finally, a lack of any sense of cohesion between the private and public sectors in so many developing counties in pursuit of energy savings and efficiency.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. And you no doubt agree with what I told Ms. Clinton and all those in attendance last night; something I believe in my heart of hearts. That no speaker in the history of Greenbuild – including people like Al Gore and even her husband – articulates the mission of the USGBC any better, or with any greater conviction.
In fact, now that I think about it, last night – that amazing night that followed that amazing day – Greenbuild had not just one, but two rock stars on display.