Former President Bill Clinton kicked off Greenbuild 2007 by outlining a series of sweeping partnerships aimed at improving the energy efficiency of hundreds of millions of square feet of public and private real estate throughout the United States.

"The tools we need to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions exist today," said Clinton, who delivered the keynote speech of the opening plenary of the world's largest conference and exposition dedicated to green and sustainable building being held in Chicago. "When it comes to climate change, the hurdles we face aren't technological, they're organizational, which is why my foundation is partnering with cities, businesses, nonprofits, and schools alike to design systems and programs that reduce energy consumption."

The Clinton Climate initiative (CCI) will partner with the City of Chicago for a green overhaul of privately-owned housing around the city, as well as the Sears Tower and the Merchandise Mart. In addition, the CCI will join with GE Real Estate to identify and implement building retrofit projects across GE Real Estate's global portfolio.

"The Clinton Climate Initiative and GE Real Estate share the view that improving the environmental performance of existing properties is essential toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing property efficiencies, positively impacting the health of tenants, and thereby improving the value of our properties," Ron Pressman, president and CEO of GE Real Estate said in a press statement today.

Clinton's announcement comes at a time when interest in green building is surging among home buyers and the building community and the record crowds at the opening day of the Greenbuild conference prove it. As gas prices race toward $4 a gallon and as concern about global warming grows, building energy-efficient homes is seen as a significant step in the right direction. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, making building greener "is our single greatest opportunity to take immediate, measurable action on critical issues like climate change, water conservation, and improving human health."

The Greenbuilding show continues through November 9.