Much public attention placed on reducing the amount of fossil fuel we burn for reasons of energy independence, economics, and environmental sustainability. The national focus has been largely centered on challenging prospects like displacing fossil fuels with other sources of energy, such as nuclear, wind, geothermal, and solar.  Another is by reducing the consumption of energy by reducing energy-intensive activities.

There are more fundamental advancements that do not involve radical changes in our energy infrastructure and yet can have high return on environmental benefits and a company’s bottom line—finding ways to improve efficiency of machines and everyday processes.

Some think manufacturing has left America and future technologies won't have a welcome home here. Nothing could be further from the truth. The key is combining innovation and resources to focus on the "dirty" little details of life to create a cleaner environment.

For instance, according to NEMA, electric motors account for nearly 70% of the electricity consumed in the U.S. industrial manufacturing sector. Many of those motors drive turbomachines such as pumps, blowers, and compressors commonly found in industrial processes. Even small efficiency improvements translate to large reductions in energy consumption.

Consider the story of Synchrony. For decades, massive machinery required significant amounts of industrial lubricant to keep big industrial bearings functioning, while the promising concept of magnetic bearings — devices that need no lubrication — was held in check by the realities of existing technology. Thus, the environment had to take a backseat to practical business concerns.

The key to finally unleashing the potential of a great idea was to doggedly investigate and create new technological advances, including miniaturization, simplicity, and integration. Now our magnetic bearings improve reliability, reduce friction, minimize vibration and offer advanced health monitoring and diagnostics -- all without the potential environmental disadvantages of lubricants. Synchrony's contribution -- efficient, cost-effective, environmentally friendly bearings -- shows that the change be less visible but may nonetheless quite important.

There is room for market optimism in this endeavor as investors are most definitely taking notice. According to a recent report from the Cleantech Group and Deloitte, the global "cleantech" sector accumulated $1.8 billion across 180 companies in the first quarter of this year—83 percent higher than the same quarter a year ago.

Blending cost savings and ability to provide a significant environmental benefit have provided us with a lesson we share with all our colleagues: even in a troubled economy, we have seen an increased interest and demand for innovative ways to provide clean, reliable and efficient solutions.

An important takeaway for boardrooms of all sizes is that we are only part of a much larger movement to making the world and profit-and-loss statements simultaneously greener.

None of these entrepreneurs or established firms is in business to go out of business. Some are making green their entire business model, while others are ensuring that being environmentally friendly is just the latest way to cut costs or add value in a    globally competitive and globally conscious marketplace.

Whether the goal is to change the world or simply improve it incrementally, here’s some easy advice for congress, C-suite executives, and start-up entrepreneurs: take what you know, dissect how it’s made and delivered, and find one way to make the process more efficient and cost-effective. The benefits will add up for the world we all share.

Dr. Victor Iannello is CEO and Founder of Synchrony Inc., a provider of clean, efficient, and reliable technology for rotating machinery and power conversion systems.