On May 27, Gottfried was the keynote speaker at Lightfair International, which is billed as North America's largest annual architectural and commercial trade lighting show.
We should live with our own eulogies in mind, he told a packed crowd at the Las Vegas Convention Center. What would we want to hear? Who do we want to have there with us? How do we want to leave our mark? This is all directly related to what he calls our "ecological comparative."
We are Atoms of Change
According to Gottfried, we alone are the solution in this global fight: "We are each the atom of change. If we can green ourselves and our sphere of influence, which are millions and billions of people, that can create the tidal wave of transformation that we need."In recent years, says Gottfried, awareness of climate change has made a revolutionary turn-around. "In early days of green, I would talk about the planet, but nobody wanted to listen," he recalls, noting a speaking engagement at Stanford University that had only five students attending a talk with five panelists.
"We didn't have terms like ecological footprint. Now we can't even accommodate everyone at our annual green building conference and expo Greenbuild, which last year had a keynote by President Clinton, a sold out exhibition hall, and 25,000 attendees."
Even China is Onboard the Green Movement
He says the world-wide ecological shift is apparent even in the big offenders, like China. "In Beijing eight years ago, they said don't talk to us about green buildings, help us get the Olympics: Then we'll talk about green. Now I read that the Olympics are green. And they are moving the plants into the suburbs, implementing energy codes, and cutting down on traffic."
But China's current condition he blames on the U.S.: "Unfortunately, they came here to study our model, to create their economy. Now almost all the rivers are polluted and most of their wood is gone. The wood they have, the import, much of it illegally."
Scientists Say we have Surpassed our CO2 Limit
Even with the progress, Gottfried states, the science is frightening: "I recently read a study that said we are at 385 particles per million of CO2, and these scientists felt the valid point was 350, that we had surpassed our equilibrium point for future survival on a long-term basis. We have never heard this before. We heard about the crisis, but not that we are beyond the equilibrium."
The economic shift is key, he believes. "What we want to know is how to make more money. Businesses want to grow, generate new products, sales, and new customers..now, green jobs are the revolutionary new trend. The greatest growth opportunity in this world is healing the planet."
An eco-lifestyle, he warns us, is not just just owning a Prius: "You loose the human spirit if you think about just the technology and codes and products."
Living green, he says, is a holistic experience that includes home, work, and health. "Do I have two cars or more? What miles per gallon do they have? Can I walk to work? Am I growing vegetables at home? Am I creating a healing environment?"
"I've never made it into the Platinum life, he says, applying the LEED system to his way of living, "only Gold briefly. It's up and down. I guess because we are human."
More on China
::How Green Will the London Olympics Be?
::Chopping Down the Rainforests for the Green Olympics
More on the USGBC
::USGBC Working Towards a Greener New Orleans
::Building a Greener Future
::How To Spot Greenwashing