"Energy Efficiency: Innovative Approaches, Proven Solutions" was the theme of the 21st Annual Energy Efficiency Forum, held June 15 and 16 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Co-sponsored by Johnson Controls and the U.S. Energy Association, the event featured U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

"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," Locke said. "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 convince people that the development of clean energy and energy-efficiency technologies could spur one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century," Locke continued.

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel of New York called this "our new Sputnik moment."

"We will be judged by how we respond," Israel said. "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."

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon spoke of the need for "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," Merkley explained. "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."

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm discussed the need to create jobs and bring overseas manufacturing to the United States.

"We create a weak nation if we don't focus on energy independence like a laser," Granholm said. "This issue of energy independence is an issue of American patriotism."

Stephen Stokes, vice president of research for AMR Research, moderated a panel discussion titled "Innovative Solutions at the Intersection of Technology and Efficiency" featuring Richard Lechner, vice president, energy and environment, IBM Corp., Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist, Microsoft, and Neil McPhail, senior vice president and general manager, New Business Solutions Group, Best Buy Company Inc., who discussed the efficiency of America's buildings and homes, the ability to advance technologies, and changing behaviors.

"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," Lechner said.

Said Bernard: "The tools that we need are here today, and they will get better, but we have the information that we need to go and address this problem right now."

Other speakers included David Sandalow, assistant secretary for policy and international affairs, U.S. Department of Energy; Influence author and OPOWER Chief Scientist Robert Cialdini, PhD; 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.