The current White House administration says it is hoping to lead by example, at least in terms of energy usage.

As part of the White House Council on Environmental Quality GreenGov Symposium, Mother Nature Network hosted a live panel discussion on Tuesday with five leaders on energy efficiency within the Obama adminstration. The panel was moderated by MNN Board of Advisors member and Director of Communications and Senior Research Scientist for Climate Central, Dr. Heidi Cullen.

“It is incredibly important that we practice what we preach,” said panelist Michelle Moore, the Obama administration’s federal environmental executive. The government has significant spending power, she said, and could dramatically change the course of cleantech growth by throwing its weight behind promising ideas.

“We are the kind of customer that can take a little idea and turn it into a great American enterprise that can create jobs,” Moore said.

Michael Robertson, who serves as an adviser to the administrator, with particular emphasis on furthering the Obama administration’s agenda at the General Services Administration (GSA), added that the administration is trying to promote “green practices not just green products.”

“Almost a billion dollars of goods flow through GSA,” Robertson said. He said GSA has “a real opportunity to influence the market. People look where we’re going.” GSA has already purchased thousands of hybrid vehicles, as part of the Recovery Act and also plants to install a plug-in electric vehicle pilot program.

The same has also been true of the Department of Defense, said panelist Jonathan Powers, the special advisor on energy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy, and Environment) and director of outreach for the Energy Initiatives Task Force. He cited the army’s net zero bases and hybrid fleet programs.

Walking The Walk

Brian Deese, who works at the National Economic Council and is special assistant to the president for economic policy, said boosting the green tech sector can also play a vital role in boosting the country’s economy.

“We have to collectively, put our money where our mouth is and help spark a larger industry, so a year, three years down the road, there are more of those jobs available,” he said.

“Being green, being sustainable, is a sound business decision,” said Robertson. And the government is not he only one saying that, said Moore. Even in the private sector, she said, businesses are realizing that being green is an economically sound policy in the long run.

“Young entrepreneurs want to do well by doing good,” said Moore. “Profitability is part of bringing benefit and the federal government’s footprint will be a big part of doing that.”

Photo Caption: Dr. Heidi Cullen speaks during the 2006 Summer Television Critics Press Tour for The Weather Channel at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on July 11, 2006 in Pasadena, California.