‘Stars of Energy Efficiency’ Shine Brightly at Alliance to Save Energy Gala Honoring DOE Sec. Stephen Chu, Co-Founder Charles H. Percy
Washington, D.C., September 22, 2009 – The “Stars of Energy Efficiency” shone brightly last week at the Alliance to Save Energy’s 17th annual gala honoring individuals and institutions that have significantly advanced the cause of saving energy and money to benefit the economy, environment, and national security. The Alliance also used the occasion to mark the upcoming 90th birthday of its co-founder, former Republican Sen. Charles H. Percy, on September 27.
Percy co-founded the Alliance in 1977, in the wake of the oil price shocks and gasoline lines precipitated by the infamous 1973 OPEC oil embargo. To give voice to proponents of energy efficiency and conservation, he undertook a grand gesture of bipartisan cooperation and concern for the public interest by tapping Democratic Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota to help establish the nonprofit organization. To this day, the Alliance harks back to its bipartisan roots by including members of Congress from both parties in honorary posts on its Board of Directors.
From the Alliance’s inception, Percy was hands-on and involved. He staffed the fledgling Alliance from his own Senate office and chaired the organization’s Board from 1977 through 1982, then served as co-chair through 1989. For many years thereafter he continued to participate actively in Alliance activities and always considered founding the Alliance as one of his most significant acts of public service.
Each year at its award banquet, the Alliance pays homage to its founder by presenting its most prestigious award, the Charles H. Percy Award for Public Service, to an individual for outstanding public service in the energy efficiency arena. This year, a video recapping highlights of the Alliance’s history paid further tribute to Percy, who was represented at the dinner by grandson and namesake Charles Percy Rockefeller.
Other luminaries among the 500 representatives of business and industry; federal, state, local, and international governments; and the nonprofit sector included Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhán Casamitjana, who presented the Alliance’s international award to two of his country’s housing agencies, and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, whom Alliance Honorary Board Chair Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) selected to receive this year’s Chairman’s Award.
“We are honored to be in the distinguished company of DOE Secretary Chu, Ambassador Sarukhán, senators and representatives, congressional staff, corporate and nonprofit executives from around the world, and of course our 2009 ‘Stars of Energy Efficiency,’” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan.
“Their creativity, commitment, and support are helping us on a daily basis as we strive to make energy efficiency our nation’s ‘first fuel’ and a key weapon in the worldwide arsenal for curbing global climate change. We truly appreciate their support and encouragement and look forward to continued collaboration,” Callahan added.
In presenting the Chairman’s Award, Pryor noted that since taking office, Nobel Laureate and former Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher Chu has continued his unstinting championship of increasing U.S. energy efficiency while also “striving to make his new home in the nation’s capital a model of efficiency and working to ensure that the federal government aggressively and effectively pursues better energy management of its facilities and fleets of vehicles.”
Pryor praised the secretary as a long-time “crusader for energy efficiency in both the political and scientific realms,” noting Chu’s “vision and leadership are positioning the United States to be the global leader in alternative and renewable energy and efficiency.”
This year’s Percy award went to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, on whose behalf the commonwealth’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Ian Bowles, accepted the award. Patrick was recognized for working with legislators to pass five landmark pieces of energy and environmental legislation.
“Massachusetts is committed to energy efficiency,” said Bowles. He noted that once the pending three-year expansion plans are implemented, Massachusetts will lead the nation in per capita savings from energy efficiency initiatives.
Minnesota’s two Democratic senators – Al Franken and Amy Kobuchar – jointly presented the award for innovation to 3M. The Minnesota-based company’s revolutionary Vikuiti Dual Brightness Enhancement Film maximizes the brightness of LCDs and reduces the number of watts required to operate TVs and monitors, potentially saving as much as 101.7 billion kilowatt-hours of energy in LCD TVs sold between 2006 and 2011.
“Energy efficiency is plain common sense,” said 3M Chairman, President, and CEO George Buckley. He noted the company’s achievements in efficiency savings and environmental stewardship over the years, including a 69 percent reduction in GHG emissions in 2008 from its 1990 base year.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) was singled out for its exemplary use of Energy Performance Contracting – taking the savings from reduced energy consumption to repay the cost of installing energy efficiency and renewable energy measures – to save $103.1 million annually in approximately 201,871 public housing units.
“We have made the highest amount of competitive funds available in HUD's history - encouraging state and local governments to develop new and innovative ways to improve public housing, rebuild communities, and increase energy efficiency,” said Assistant Secretary of Public and Indian Housing Sandra B. Henriquez.
The Alliance’s international award went to Mexico’s National Housing Commission (CONAVI) and National Fund for Housing (INFONAVIT), which both promote energy efficiency through low-income housing programs. CONAVI is endeavoring to reduce energy use in both housing construction and day-to-day home activities to in turn reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
As the largest originator of residential mortgages in Mexico, INFONAVIT authorized the Green Mortgage credit system to improve the environment, promote the incorporation of sustainability criteria in the homes that the agency finances, support the National Strategy for Climate Change, and ensure energy and water savings that will make homes more affordable.
Victor Borras-Setien, general director of INFONAVIT, noted that promoting sustainability in housing is a priority of Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and that the programs recognized by the Alliance are great examples of progress being made.
The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., is the nation’s first museum to certify its greenhouse gas emissions with a registry, the California Climate Action Registry. It has used energy efficiency to hold its kilowatt-hour usage steady since 2002, despite a consistent increase in visitors. In 2008, the aquarium inaugurated a new environmental classroom, the city’s first LEED platinum-certified facility.
Thanks to an energy conservation and management program for every building in the school district, Warren County (Ky.) Public Schools has, since 2003, avoided costs of more than $4 million by cutting energy consumption by more than 28 percent. Currently, the school district has four buildings with Energy Star certification and has recently begun building the nation’s first net zero energy public school, projected to save an estimated $233,744 annually. The school district also focuses on developing daily curriculum material demonstrating energy efficiency in action.
Interim Superintendent of the Warren County Public Schools System Tim Murely said, “We don’t want to just teach children, but also be an example for them.”