Addressing over 300 attendees at the EE Visionary Awards luncheon, Senator Mark Warner (D – Va.) highlighted energy efficiency items he believes Congress can make progress on this year. Detailing opportunities to advance efficiency through increased energy productivity, Warner described areas including improving building energy efficiency and the need for upgraded data systems. The latter which is particularly ripe for public-private cooperation and an issue he is personally open to working on with the business community. Closing his remarks, Warner noted the Race to the Top competition for grid modernization is a step in the right direction for increased energy efficiency and energy productivity, and work remains to be done across the areas of investment, modernization and education.

Receiving the EE Visionary Award for Education, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, addressed attendees via video noting that while he is in a position to develop the narrative for energy efficiency and energy access, it is imperative that we, as citizens of the energy efficiency community, bring solutions to the table. Dr. Yumkella also made several announcements, including that in four weeks he will take over as the Chief Executive of the Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), and the General Assembly has declared a decade for SE4All starting in January 2014 through 2024. With a government structure to move the initiative forward, and a current debate on the role of energy in the post 2015 development agenda, Dr. Yumkella explained that the General Assembly has already been approached to provide sustainable development goals related to energy. With a resonating message, Dr. Yumkella closed by announcing that energy efficiency and increased industrial competitiveness are needed for better living standards for all.

Providing Suzhou Mayor Niaxing Zhou’s acceptance speech on his behalf, Barbara Finamore, Senior Attorney and Director of the China Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, commented that the city of Suzhou has been dedicated to energy efficiency and emission reduction work in China for many years and is greatly honored to receive the EE Visionary Award for Modernization. The city of Suzhou has embraced a scientific development approach in systematically implementing national and provincial policies and decisions, and adhering to the energy saving and emissions reduction objectives of China’s “twelfth five year plan”, Suzhou has taken energy saving and emissions reduction as the key to accelerating the transformation of economic development. This award is not only a validation of Suzhou’s steadfast commitment to energy efficiency, but also recognition of China’s leadership role in energy efficiency.

Being honored for his investments in energy efficiency processes through his family company, Duerr AG, a leading global supplier of automotive products, Heinz Duerr, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Energy Efficiency in Production (EEP) was recognized as the EE Visionary for Investment for his involvement in founding the EEP at the University of Stuttgart. An advocate for energy efficiency through and through, Mr. Duerr noted that in order to paint the body of a car it requires between 1000-1200 kilowatt hours (kWh), the amount of energy consumed by a city with a population of 20,000. Through their implementation of energy efficiency processes, Duerr AG reduced that amount down to 500 kWh.