02/17/11

GEED Promotes Energy Efficiency as Nation’s ‘First Fuel’

As the 112th session of Congress gets underway,  members of Congress, energy experts and 300 efficiency advocates tapped into energy efficiency as the first fuel for the nation at the Alliance’s eighth annual Great Energy Efficiency Day (GEED) on Capitol Hill.

Sponsored by Johns Manville, AT&T, Legrand, LG and Schneider Electric, this year’s GEED called on policymakers from both major parties to harness the power of energy efficiency to strengthen national security, bolster the economy and improve the environment. Keynote speakers included Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), in addition to former Michigan Gov. John Engler, now president and CEO of Business Roundtable.

Propelling Energy Efficiency Policy for Small Businesses, Buildings

In a series of “Finding Common Ground” panel discussions featuring question-and-answer periods, panelists described how targeted policy and legislation can propel efficiency initiatives in buildings, industry and appliance standards. Small business owner Tom Bowman, president of Bowman Design Group, emphasized the need for both the federal government and utilities to provide incentives for small business owners to embrace energy efficiency. With more than 27,000 small business owners plus their thousands of employees, the payoffs of reaching this untapped market are huge.

Engler stressed the importance of making it easier for businesses to take advantage of existing incentives. The current patchwork of policies contains too many mandates, subsidies and overlapping or conflicting laws. This “labyrinth of regulations” represents a threat to the nation’s economy, security and environmental success, he said.

The Time is Now for Energy-Efficient Legislation, Sen. Shaheen Says

For Sen. Shaheen, getting an energy policy passed in this Congress is crucial for advancing efficiency in the country. The nation’s renewed focus on energy efficiency makes sense, she said. With the right policies in place, many different sectors will be able to tap into the best of U.S. innovation.

“I believe that taking action on energy policy in this Congress … is critical to grow our economy, to create jobs, to end our dependence on foreign oil, and to make America again a leader in the global energy race,” Sen. Shaheen said.

Finding Common Ground in Industry

But policies and regulations from the government are not the only ingredients needed to successfully drive energy efficiency — industry can play its own part, too. Energy needs to be treated like any other plan in a company, said Paul Hamilton, senior vice president of energy efficiency programs at Schneider Electric. Goals must be set and leadership must be committed. But the key, he said, is people. Building passion, driving change and engaging in innovation attracts people to both efficiency and efficient companies — and these are the type of people employers want working for them.

Common ground between disparate sectors is important for efficiency as well, said Janice Berman, senior vice president of IDSM policy and planning at PG&E. In California, for example, one of the highest uses of energy is to pump water around the state. Minimizing water usage automatically affects energy usage in the state, she said.

While the panelists represented a variety of interests and sectors, all expressed hope about the opportunities for efficiency to be a uniting factor across political parties and industries.

For More Info

Read the full agenda and speaker bios on GEED's event page, and watch these videos for highlights:

 
 

Presentations

Panel One: Finding Common Ground

Panel Two: Finding Common Ground: Buildings

Panel Three: Finding Common Ground: Industrial

Panel Four: Finding Common Ground: Equipment and Appliance Standards

Unsung Heroes Award

The evening before GEED, the Alliance launched its Build Energy Efficiency education and outreach campaign, as well as honored energy efficiency's Unsung Heroes.