Retired Gen. Colin Powell Opens Greenbuild 2010

The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Greenbuild International Conference & Expo officially started Wednesday morning in Chicago as retired Gen. Colin Powell addressed a crowd of 10,000 in the opening keynote hall with a message of leadership and optimism for the future.

Powell presented the Greenbuild 2010 opening keynote address at a plenary session that also included a discussion between political pundits Mary Matalin and James Carville and remarks from USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi.

“Leadership has to be passionate. Each person involved must believe they have a purpose,” General Colin Powell said.

Powell’s address focused on the traits of a strong leader and of the role that everyone plays in redefining the future – a message well-received by the thousands of attendees representing every sector of the building industry. As of Wednesday morning, more than 25,000 attendees from 112 countries had registered for Greenbuild 2010 to attend education sessions, view the world’s largest green building exhibit hall, attend networking events, and continue to fuel the tremendous growth of the green building industry.

“The leadership of the green building community is at the heart of Greenbuild,” said Fedrizzi. “This year us all about Generation Green: Redefining Our Future – and today, I see that we are collectively the most important catalysts for the change that will result in the greatest consumer, cultural and market revolution in America. Together we deliver through the built environment immediate and measurable improvements in our overall quality of life.”

In a recent report, McGraw-Hill Construction noted that the green building industry has grown by 50 percent in the last two years, despite a recession that has prevented the growth of many other industries. In fact, in a 2009 study, McGraw-Hill projected that the green building industry will contribute $554 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product and create or save 7.9 million American jobs between 2009 and 2013.

Following Powell’s remarks, Matalin and Carville – who are married but often espouse opposing political views – shared their take on the state of politics following the recent elections. Their insights shared a common theme: Despite what seems to be a fractured electorate, the American people are united in their concern about issues like energy and the economy, and industries like green building that are based on collaboration and driven by solutions. In addition to providing their analyses, Matalin and Carville took questions from audience members.

Greenbuild 2010 wraps up today, when the Hon. Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and author and environmental pioneer Paul Hawken keynote the closing plenary. During the week, attendees participated in nearly 200 education sessions, including a Residential Summit focused on green homebuilding. With registration already topping 25,000, attendance at Greenbuild appears on track to surpass last year’s 27,373 attendees and set a new record as the largest Greenbuild since the show started in Austin in 2002.

On Tuesday, a number of events – including a Green Jobs Summit, an International Forum, an Affordable Housing Summit, a Residential Summit, as well as a Green Job Fair that was free and open to the public – were held in advance of the opening plenary. And on Tuesday evening, the exhibit hall – with more than 1,000 exhibiting companies – officially opened with remarks from journalist Lisa Ling, Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Manuel Flores, and Ken Bennett, the regional representative of U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

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