It was a night to celebrate everything from downtown union headquarters that double as zero net energy buildings to residents lowering the carbon footprint of their sleepy rural and lakeshore houses. The fourth annual Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, held on September 5, was all about the transcendence of energy efficiency.

The event this year proved yet again that Michigan is a one-of-a-kind leader in the field of energy waste reduction, thanks to a diverse steering committee and nominees who come from all walks of life, yet share a commitment to energy efficiency.

And as almost 150 people gathered at the Goei Center in Grand Rapids to celebrate the diverse, innovative work of the 21 nominees — and learn who would take an award home — many also felt the transcendence of leadership as they thanked Gov. Rick Snyder and his administration for their last year at the helm of the awards.

“For four years, we’ve enjoyed the support of this administration,” said Mary Templeton, president and CEO of Michigan Saves. “We are so grateful to Governor Snyder and his team. Together, we helped create a deep tradition of celebrating energy waste reduction in the state of Michigan. Energy efficiency isn’t a partisan issue, so we’re also looking forward to working with the new administration, whomever may lead it.”

Major General Michael Stone of the Michigan National Guard stands to receive his award for Innovator of the Year.

While the nominees and winners celebrated their work and each other, they also shared their excitement. Major General Michael Stone, who took home the Innovator of the Year award for his work, said he was truly honored by the recognition.

“It’s very humbling,” he said. “In the Army, it’s a team sport, so it’s almost kind of embarrassing for me to be nominated individually. I’ve got this whole team of people behind me that help make this happen . . . I say this all the time — we’ve got one of the most amazing environmental programs in the country in the Michigan National Guard.”

Attendees like Anne Armstrong Cusack — executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, which is a program sponsor — also felt inspired by the work of nominees like Major General Stone.

“The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards prove that the Michigan spirit of innovation thrives in every corner of our great state,” she said. “The awards celebrate the contributions businesses, homeowners and public entities have made in energy waste reduction, ensuring a secure and sustainable energy future for all Michiganders.”

“Eliminating energy waste is critical to achieving our goal of a ‘no-regrets’ energy future that is affordable, reliable, adaptable and protective of the environment,” Armstrong Cusack added. “All Michiganders, from our low-income citizens to our largest corporations, have the tools to cut energy waste, and save money. It’s the smart thing to do and it benefits everyone.”

The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards left behind a clear message this year: energy efficiency knows no boundaries.

“Sometimes these projects add up for our bottom lines, sometimes they’re about safety and sometimes they’re about principles and values,” said Templeton. “But whatever the reason is, we are all making decisions now to lead to a better, more sustainable tomorrow for Michigan.”