The general public is now hearing what the woodworking industry has heard for years. Go green!

The push to go green — save the environment and prevent global warming — is being promoted in all the local media, from newspapers to TV news shows. Everywhere you turn, you’re hammered with information ranging from energy-saving lightbulbs, to eco-friendly resorts. Even the Today show traveled “the ends of the Earth” to spotlight the problems of global warming and climate change on the environment.

In Chicago, the spotlight was on the recent Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held at McCormick Place on Nov. 7, 8 and 9.

Greenbuild was billed as the largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. In total, an estimated 20,000 people from more than 40 countries — representing a wide range of industry segments, including woodworking — were expected to attend the three-day event.

Former President Bill Clinton kicked off the sixth annual event with a keynote plenary to nearly 8,000 attendees. In it, he stressed the need to improve the efficiency of public buildings.

In his comments, the former president said that the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), part of the Clinton Foundation, is entering into partnerships to improve the efficiency of hundreds of buildings in the United States. He noted that approximately 70 percent of carbon emissions come from urban areas, with the majority attributed to buildings.

It was approximately one year ago that the Clinton Foundation got involved in climate initiatives with the 40 largest cities in the world, including five in the United States: Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Philadelphia. At Greenbuild, Clinton announced that the CCI has agreed to help fund the retrofitting of buildings in these major cities as part of the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need a broader acceptance,” Clinton said of encouraging the general public to reduce global emissions. However, he added, even if the United States reduces its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2015, if emerging countries don’t work toward the same goal, the unwelcome climate changes will still take affect. “[We] have to figure out how to prove this is not a great big bottle of castor oil to drink, but a great economic opportunity,” Clinton said.

“I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy. We can do this, but in order to do it, we have to prove it’s good economics.”

According to Clinton, countries that are participating in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change already are seeing “added” benefits, including lowering of unemployment and strengthened economies. “This is a message we have to bring to America,” he said.

Starting with Schools

Clinton also announced partnerships between CCI, the U.S. Green Building Council and a number of K-12 public school districts to reduce energy consumption in educational buildings, as part of the Green Schools Program.

In a recent press release, Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC’s president, CEO and founding chair, said, “We are honored to have partnered with the President’s climate initiative to convene this historic effort to green our nation’s schools. Green schools are a powerful demonstration of our commitment to our children’s future and it’s a powerful way to show the next generation how we can make a difference in this world.”

Among those participating are Chicago Public Schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Washington, DC, Public Schools. In addition, several colleges and universities are also participating in the program to reduce their energy consumption while “committing to climate neutrality.”

For information on Greenbuild, visit To hear Clinton’s speech, visit

Wood Industry Represented

Also at Greenbuild were displays by more than 850 exhibitors, including many from the woodworking industry. Among those represented were: the Composite Panel Assn., Canadian Wood Council, Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, Columbia Forest Products, Collins Cos., EcoTimber, Roseburg Forest Products. SierraPine, States Ind., Sherwin-Williams, PPG, VT Ind., Valspar, Mohawk, Potlatch Forest, Rex Lumber, Certified Forest Products and Certified Wood Products.

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