07/12/2012 02:57 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Winning Gold in the Green Race

Today the UK is being recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), for its efforts and achievement in energy efficiency. The ACEEE believes that "a country that uses less energy to achieve the same or better results reduces costs and pollution, creating a stronger, more competitive economy." This is what we're doing in the UK.

Green is GREAT Britain

ACEEE looked at 12 of the world's largest economies representing over 78 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and 63 percent of global energy consumption. They measured performance in four categories (buildings, industry, transportation, and national commitment), and the UK came out number 1.

This is a welcome recognition of our efforts. Smarter energy use brings many benefits, including savings on consumer energy bills, less dependency on energy imports, and air quality improvements. Perhaps most importantly, using less energy lowers operating costs and frees up capital, promoting growth and making the UK economy more competitive. If you're a business and you care about energy efficiency, the UK's the place for you.

We do our bit here at the British Embassy in Washington too: our energy-efficient power generator saves enough electricity to power 226 homes for a year and reduces the Embassy's carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent annually. This is part of our effort to meet wider government objectives of lowering our costs.

Another quick stat to back up the numbers in ACEEE's report: UK GDP doubled from 1970 to 2011, while energy consumption stayed the same. In stark terms, we use half the amount of energy for the same economic benefit as we did 40 years ago. Being energy efficient is central to maintaining our competitiveness and growing our economy in the future.

We know there is more to do. We are committed to a per capita reduction in energy use of between 31 and 54 percent in order to meet our carbon reduction goals. We have ambitious policy initiatives to support this, including our energy efficiency retrofit program, the Green Deal. Policies like these not only make it easier for consumers to save energy and reduce pollution, they help make UK businesses and households become more competitive in a resource-constrained world.

It's an honour to be recognised by this first-of-its-kind ACEEE scorecard and we look forward to learning from the experiences of other countries discussed in the study. And we certainly intend to maintain our leadership role and be similarly highly-ranked when the next version is released in 2014.