How new leadership can build on public- and private-sector initiatives to develop large-scale energy-efficiency programs that have a significant economic and environmental impact was the focus of the 19th annual Energy Efficiency Forum, titled “Energy Efficiency: What's Happening Now and What's Next?,” June 10 and 11 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the U.S. Energy Association and Johnson Controls Inc., the event drew representatives of both the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns.

Speaking on behalf of presumed Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, Jason Grumet, executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, said Obama “believes that we have to decouple the profit motives of the energy sector from energy production,” adding that Obama believes new buildings need to be 25 percent more efficient than they are today within the next decade and 50 percent more efficient by 2030.

In his remarks on behalf of presumed Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, former Virginia Gov. George Allen said McCain would “propose a national energy strategy that will amount to a declaration of independence from energy insecurity, and he'll promote diversification and conservation of our energy resources.”

The keynote speaker for the event was U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman, who stressed to the audience of energy decision makers that, “Efficiency does not need to come at the expense of profitability.”

Among the event's special guests was Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who previewed his upcoming book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America.”

Friedman proposed mobilizing to a “Code Green.”

“What red was to America in the 1950s and 1960s … we need green to be for today's America,” Friedman said, adding: “I would be less than truthful, though, if I said that America as it operates today is ready for this mission. We are not.”

Following his speech, Friedman led a panel discussion featuring Robert Watson, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of EcoTech International Group and founder of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, and David B. Goldstein, co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's energy program.

Guest speakers for the event included Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Brenna S. Walraven, RPA, CPM, chairman and CEO of Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International; and Steven R. Specker, PhD, president and CEO of the Electric Power Research Institute.

The following received 2008 Energy Leadership Awards:

  • Gregory J. Nickels, mayor of Seattle, for his formation of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which has been signed by more than 850 mayors across the country.

  • Alexander “Andy” Karsner, assistant secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, for his efforts to advance programs that reduce building- and vehicle-related energy.

  • Alan Edwards, national energy manager for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, for his efforts to renew aging infrastructure and introduce renewable technologies at 96 federal prisons, which have resulted in approximately 166 billion Btu in energy savings.

For more on the Energy Efficiency Forum, including a video recap, visit www.eeforum.net.