Experts underscore financial benefits of building efficiency at USEA-sponsored forum

Public and private sector leaders outlined legislation, policies and business strategies for reducing energy use and operating costs in buildings at the 23rd Energy Efficiency Forum, co-sponsored by the United States Energy Association (USEA), the World Energy Council’s US member committee, on 14 June.

Richard Kauffman, senior advisor to the US Secretary of Energy, kicked off the forum asking the 300 attendees in Washington, DC, to consider what motivates customers to implement energy efficiency capabilities. Once their behaviour is understood, “we then must develop financing models that meet their needs,” he said.

Carlos Pascual, US State Department special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, told attendees that energy efficiency is an important part of building the global economy and protecting national security interests.

Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to President Obama for energy and climate change, talked about the multiple benefits of energy efficiency. “Improving energy efficiency – whether in the transportation or the built environment – is truly the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to decrease dependence on oil, reduce pollution, and save families and businesses money on energy bills,” she said.

Buildings account for 40% of global energy use, according to the US Department of Energy.

The annual Energy Efficiency Forum has been running since 1990. Barry Worthington, USEA executive director, said that over the years it has focused the attention of Washington policymakers on energy efficiency. “This non-political event showcases the thought leaders in efficiency, which all USEA members agree is our most important energy strategy,” he added.  The event was started, and continues to be co-sponsored, by Johnson Controls, the international energy technology provider.

This year’s Forum saw four public officials receiving Energy Leadership Awards for their efforts in advancing energy efficiency in North America.  It also honoured and awarded scholarships to three past winners of the Igniting Creative Energy Challenge, a student competition aimed at encouraging thinking around environmental issues.