Israel took a serious step forward in preparing the groundwork for energy conservation Monday night when the economic-social cabinet approved a plan to reduce the country's energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020. National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer prepared the plan as part of a series of measures designed to make Israel more environmentally friendly and cost efficient. A 20% cut would mean a reduction of about 16 billion kilowatt hours. Finance Minister Ronnie BarOn, who chairs the cabinet, noted that the plan would rake in savings to the tune of billions of shekels, which could then be reinvested in the economy and especially green technology. The plan calls for several specific steps to be taken to streamline Israel's energy consumption both in the face of rising oil prices and in the future. The ministry will assist households and small businesses to undergo energy assessments, replace inefficient machinery and switch air conditioning and lighting systems. The government will also be serving as an example to the public: each government ministry must present an energy efficiency plan with savings to be reinvested in that ministry. All new government buildings from now on must be built according to green building standards. Efficiency standards for major electronic appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines would also be instituted. Moreover, importers will be prohibited from bringing inefficient machines into the country. Finally, the ministry will set up a multi-year PR campaign to educate the public on how to save electricity. In addition, a fund will be set up to provide grants to projects which encourage energy conservation. A committee made up of ministry directors-general, headed by National Infrastructures Ministry Dir.-Gen. Hezy Kugler, would monitor progress. At the end of the discussion, Ben-Eliezer pronounced, "The efficiency program which was approved today, alongside encouraging the use of alternative energy sources, will lead to the revolution we are looking forward to in our energy market. The decision taken today puts us among the front ranks of the most developed countries in the Western world."