U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu during an online town hall to discuss President Obama's clean energy and innovation agenda on January 11, 2011. 
Charles Watkins, Contractor, U.S. Department of Energy U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu during an online town hall to discuss President Obama's clean energy and innovation agenda on January 11, 2011. 

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu announced he will not serve a second term in a letter to DOE employees released on February 1. Chu was appointed to the position in 2009. He will stay on as Secretary through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (APRA-E) Summit at the end of February. 

Prior to serving as Secretary of Energy, he was the directory of the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where he focused on alternative and renewable energy technologies. Prior to that, he was a professor of physics and of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, and was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997.

Addressing DOE employees via letter, Chu wrote:  “In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas. Advances are made with new insights, but the final arbitrator of any point of view are experiments that seek the unbiased truth, not information cherry picked to support a particular point of view. The power of our work is derived from this foundation.

This is the approach I’ve brought to the Department of Energy, where I believe we should be judged not by the money we direct to a particular State or district, company, university or national lab, but by the character of our decisions. The Department of Energy serves the country as a Department of Science, a Department of Innovation, and a Department of Nuclear Security.”

Among the successes Chu noted in his letter were the doubling of the use of wind and solar energy in the United States over the last four years, which exceeded 1.8 gigawatts in 2011; assisting one million low-income  homeowners to weatherize their homes; securing $2 billion in commitments from more than 100 companies through the Better Buildings Challenge to upgrade 2 billion square feet of commercial and industrial space by 2020; and the administration of a loan program to 33 clean energy and advanced automotive manufacturing projects.

His closing observations cautioned against continued spending on foreign oi;, stressed the need to recognize climate change and the dominant role human activity has on it; and “the moral responsibility to the most innocent victims of adverse climate change.”

For more on Chu’s tenure, his parting message, and his possible replacement, click below:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu Officially Leaving DOE (Green Tech Media)

Outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s Parting Warning on Warming (Time magazine)

Revisiting Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s Tenure (EarthTechling)

Letter from Secretary Steven Chu to Energy Department Employees Announcing His Decision Not to Serve a Second Term (U.S. Department of Energy)

Chu’s impending departure from the DOE creates a second major energy and environmental opening for President Barack Obama’s administration to fill this year. In December, Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa P. Jackson announced that she would leave her cabinet post after the 2013 State of the Union address. What does this turnover mean for both U.S. environmental policy and for green building? Leave your thoughts and comments below.