U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and other 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, was held June 15 and 16 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and via Webcast through the Virtual Energy Forum.

Outlining the Forum’s discussion by tying technology to policy and economy, Sec. Locke said, “The United States currently consumes more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, and yet we only have two 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; Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.); and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm provided insights. “Influence” author and OPOWER Chief Scientist Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.; Mason Emnett, associate director of the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund, continued the discussion.

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.”

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, vice president of energy and environment for IBM Corp.; Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist for Microsoft; and Neil McPhail, senior vice president and general manager of the New Business Solutions Group at Best Buy Co. Inc.

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.”

Additionally, the winners of the 2010 Igniting Creative Energy (ICE) Challenge were recognized at the Forum for innovative energy-efficiency ideas. ICE, a partnership program developed by Johnson Controls and the National Energy Foundation, is a national student challenge to motivate learning, ignite the imagination, and fuel the creative potential in youth.

The winners were:
• Elementary School Grand Prize – Cheyenne Martinek, a fifth-grader from Poulsbo, Wash.
• Middle School Grand Prize – Alexander Miller Jr., a sixth-grader from Salt Lake City, Utah
• High School Grand Prize – Anne Spence, a sophomore in Holland, Mich.
• Teacher Division — Brian Mulcahy, sixth-grade teacher in Massapequa Park, N.Y.

To learn more about their award entries, visit www.ignitingcreativeenergy.org.

To view the archived version of the Webcast and for additional transcripts and images, visit www.eeforum.net.