After a long day walking the expo hall, meeting with green building product manufacturers, and sitting in on some fantastic sessions, I headed over to Chase Field to prepare for the Greenbuild 2009 Opening Celebration. After a great speech by U.S. Green Building Council CEO Rick Fedrizzi and representatives from green building councils across the world, Al Gore took the stage to present his keynote address.

Admittedly, I was a little starstruck. When Gore made his way to the stage I found that I was grinning. What followed was one of the most inspirational, and at times entertaining, keynote speeches I’ve ever heard. Once he introduced himself by saying “I am Al Gore, I used to be the next president of the United States” he had most of the audience hooked.

Gore explained that those in the audience, professionals and manufacturers in the green building industry, could help be a part of the solution to the multiple crises we currently face. Green building can help solve the economic crisis by providing good, green jobs. Green building can help solve the environmental crisis by creating more energy efficient buildings that have a smaller impact on the environment. Lastly, green building can help solve the national security crisis by eliminating the nation’s over-dependence on foreign oil. Yes, green building can help solve America’s national security crisis.

He lauded the green building movement for progressing in spite of the continuing economic stress but he implored everyone that we need to accept responsibility and act now; if not for us, then for future generations. Gore pledged the following to the children of our nation, “We are NOT going to let you down.”

As a mother, I had tears in my eyes when he said this. My children are the reason I am involved in this entire go green movement. So I took this to heart, my message to my kids is that no, I am NOT going to let you down.

Gore went on to thank high school and college students in this nation who have changed their course of study to one that will help solve the climate crisis. As Americans, we all have the ability to solve this crisis and political will is a major impediment. He passionately stated that the “alternative to failure in Copenhagen is unacceptable.”

As his speech came to a close, Gore touched back on the reason we should act now — future generations. He said that in the future, today’s children will ask two questions. If they are faced with a world where the global ice caps are gone and see that we, the citizens of this world, did nothing then they will ask, “What were you thinking? Didn’t you care?”

Alternately, if today’s children grow up and see a world in renewal, filled with green buildings, and families with good green jobs then the children will ask “How did you find the moral courage to rise up and solve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?”

In closing, Gore said that we have everything we need to solve this crisis with the possible exception of political will. However, “in the United States, political will is a renewable resource.”

Greenbuild 2009: Al Gore's keynote address
Former vice president gives an inspirational speech during the Greenbuild 2009 Opening Celebration in Phoenix.