The U.S. Green Building Council announced on June 8 that its annual Greenbuild International Conference + Expo 2023 keynote speaker will be former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Kal Penn. 

Penn, a well-known actor, writer and producer, was tapped by then-President Barak Obama to serve as the principal associate editor in the White House Office of Public Engagement. He will take to the main stage at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 27, as the keynote speaker during the USGBC’s 30th anniversary celebration.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kal Penn to the Greenbuild 2023 main stage,” said Sherida Sessa, the Greenbuild brand director at Informa Connect, which will produce the event. “Mr. Penn brings a unique perspective to Greenbuild, having worked both in the federal government, the Obama White House, and Hollywood.” 

Sessa noted that Penn’s most recent work on the Bloomberg Green climate change docuseries, “Getting Warmer,” gives daylight to the issues the Greenbuild audience works to combat every day, including climate mitigation efforts and sustainable building practices. 

Of course, before entering government, the actor was a well-known commodity as one-half of the “Harold & Kumar” comedy franchise. Penn is also known for his starring roles in “Designated Survivor,” “House,” and the Christmas comedy “The Santa Clauses” for Disney+. 

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From 2009-11, he took a sabbatical from acting to serve in the Obama/Biden administration as the President's Liaison to Young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Arts community.

Penn was a national co-chair for the Obama/Biden re-election campaign in 2012 and then served on the President's Committee for the Arts and Humanities, focusing on arts education and cultural diplomacy, including the first-ever U.S. Government arts delegation to Cuba. Penn is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Penn worked on policy issues in the Obama administration, including the Affordable Care Act, Pell Grants, arts and culture programs, the DREAM Act, rapid response to the BP oil spill, the earthquake in Haiti, and repealing the Clinton-era “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” compromise bill allowing gay men and women to serve in U.S. military. 

Jackman said Penn’s conversation would focus on the intersection of climate, clean energy and business.

Harold_and_Kumar_2_poster.jpg"Kal Penn's remarkable journey makes him an ideal keynote speaker for Greenbuild 2023,” said Britt Jackman, director, Conferences and Events, for the U.S. Green Building Council. “His diverse experiences in government service and high-profile career allow him to leverage his platform to advocate for a fresh and insightful perspective at Greenbuild.”

Earlier this year, Penn wrapped production on the Bloomberg Green climate change docuseries, “Getting Warmer”, and the Viacom/Paramount + comedy “Surina & Mel.” Following the departure of Trevor Noah from The Daily Show, Penn was named as a guest host.

The Greenbuild International Conference runs from Sept. 26-29; the Expo takes place Sept. 27-28, 2023, and is the nation’s premier event for green building professionals, including architects, engineers, building owners and managers, contractors, urban planners, manufacturers, and others. 

The conference will include a variety of interactive and collaborative education sessions, a show floor featuring sustainable building innovations, and a wide range of peer networking and industry recognition events. Professionals can also earn continuing education (CE) credits at the event.

In a news release, USGBC said the Greenbuild International Conference + Expo achieved “Platinum Level certification” on the Events Industry Council Sustainable Events Standards and earned “TRUE Gold Certification,” representing that the event is leading the way in minimizing waste output, becoming more resource efficient, and environmentally responsible.

To register for the 2023 Greenbuild International Conference + Expo, click here.