Energy EfficiencyEnergy has been a dominant theme for the first four years of the Obama administration, from the Keystone XL pipeline to renewables and the Solyndra mess. But one of the strongest prevailing threads has been President Obama’s repeated emphasis on improving energy efficiency, a move that some experts think could mean good times ahead for the companies that provide sustainable energy solutions, according to Reuters.

For most people, cutting down energy has always been more about turning down the thermostat or running the air conditioner less. As energy prices steadily climbed over the second half of the 20th century, however, more and more businesses began to realize that they could see enormous savings by actually investing in systems designed to reduce their energy needs.

The problem is that not every business is an expert on energy usage, even their own, or really knows the best ways to reduce it.

To fill that gap in expertise, a growing number of energy service companies have sprung up offering to put together a plan of action to reduce energy needs for everything from large-scale factories to small office buildings. While all of these services cost money, this new industry developed an innovative form of financing, where companies can pay for their efficiency improvement through the money they save on energy they’re no longer using.

With these types of deals, even government agencies on extremely tight budgets can afford to add efficiency improvements – an opportunity Obama was quick to seize. Two years ago, the president called on federal agencies to make energy efficiency a priority, committing to a target of $2 billion in energy efficiency projects in just two years.

Given that the entire market for energy efficiency in 2011 was $5.1 billion, that’s a massive number, but not an unachievable one.

“There is a lot more potential in the program than what’s been done today,” Adam Procell, executive vice president at Lime Energy Co, told Reuters.

With roughly 500,000 buildings, the federal government could make a huge dent in energy demand by recommitting to energy efficiency, all the while giving a boost to an industry that could be crucial to the country’s energy future.

Late last year, according to GreentechMedia, Obama took step by signing into a law a new energy efficiency bill designed to spur efficiency in government buildings while also looking for better ways to encourage efficiency in the private sector.