The 21st Annual Energy Efficiency Forum, co-sponsored by Johnson Controls and the U.S. Energy Association, was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Herman Farrer Photography.)

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and other leading policymakers and business executives provided insights into “Energy Efficiency: Innovative Approaches, Proven Solutions” during the 21st annual Energy Efficiency Forum. The event, co-sponsored by Johnson Controls and the U.S. Energy Association (USEA), was held in mid-June at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and webcast online through the Virtual Energy Forum.

Outlining the forum’s discussion by tying technology to policy and economy, Secretary Locke warned, “The United States currently consumes more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, and yet we only have 2 percent of the world’s reserves. If we fail to develop new sources of clean energy and transform the way we use energy across our economy, we know the future waiting for us.

“Our challenge is to write a different story. Our challenge is to convince people that the development of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies could spur one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.”

Thousands of attendees around the globe listened as David Sandalow, assistant secretary for policy and international affairs, U.S. Department of Energy; Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.; and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm provided insights.

Rep. Israel summarized the need for energy efficiency by saying, “This is our new Sputnik moment. And we will be judged by how we respond. We’ve got to make the case to the American people that energy efficiency is about our environmental security. It’s about our economic security. It’s also about our national security.”

“Our purchase of overseas oil is the biggest component of our foreign trade shortfall,” Sen. Merkley elaborated. “It’s a real national security problem, but there are several other ideas passing around that I think are well worth pursuing. I would like to see a 10 percent Energy Efficiency Resource Standard separate from the Renewable Energy Standard so that one is not being traded off against the other. I’d like to see that a third of the pre-allowances allocated to natural gas and electric utilities go to invest in energy efficiency. I’d like to see us fund industrial energy efficiency more effectively. And I’d like to see more funds for state energy efficiency programs. All of those are things that can be done within the framework of the conversation we’re having right now.”

Attendees gained additional insight as two panels discussed business and energy efficiency. Stephen Stokes, vice president of research at AMR Research, moderated a panel discussion on the “Innovative Solutions at the Intersection of Technology and Efficiency.” Panelists included Richard Lechner of IBM, Rob Bernard of Microsoft, and Neil McPhail of Best Buy.

All three panelists focused on the efficiency of America’s buildings and homes, the ability to advance the technologies and, most importantly, the issue of changing behaviors. Lechner addressed IBM’s top-down approach stating, “To improve the sustainability of an organization, a society, a country, a planet requires taking a systemic approach … and it does mean approaching a public-private partnership.”

For the archived version of the webcast, and for additional transcripts and images, visit

Publication date:07/05/2010