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From NPR

Hefner replaced some low-efficiency bulbs in Cole's home with energy-saving bulbs. Then the host said it will save a lot of money for her on her electric bill, then:

The prospect of big national savings is what's driving the case for more energy-efficient lighting.

I guess "case" means the situation where people use energy-saving bulbs, but what's the meaning of "driving" here? What's the meaning of the whole sentence?

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"Driving" means it is taking the case forward, it is the main reason for the case.

If you are "driven" by something, it means that you are strongly motivated to do something.

You can give money to a medical charity, because you are driven by the ideal of a disease-free world.

The case for that charity can also be driven by that ideal, meaning that the main reason for the existence of that charity is that ideal.

The sentence can be read as:

The reason why we promote energy-efficient lighting is the prospect of big national savings.

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When you read driving in this case, think of driving a nail, not driving a car. The hammer drives the nail in a particular direction; likewise, certain forces can drive people to act a certain way. We can be driven by fiscal or market forces, such as possible cost savings or tax incentives, or we can be driven by emotions, ambitions, addictions, needs, or social causes.

  • Greed is what drove the investment adviser to bilk his customers.
  • Hunger is what drove the poor man to steal a loaf of bread.
  • The prospect of a promotion is what drove Linda to work 12 hours every day, six days a week.
  • The high price of gasoline plus concerns about lowering air pollution were the key driving forces behind the development of the hybrid automobile.
  • But always Shackleton was driven by the need to test his personal abilities and to emerge the victor in competition. (Beau Riffenburgh, 2008)

It might be worth mentioning that writers don't always explicitly say which force is driving the individual or the group, but assume the reader can figure it out.

  • He was driven to be the best athlete he could be.
  • Despite the fact that her confidence was in tatters, she was driven to fight for what she wanted, to win what she'd come for, and to spare no effort to reach her goal. (Bi Feiyu, 2010)
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"Case" in this sense means more like "argument".

"Driving" means something more like "strongly motivating" in this context.

People are making the argument that we should switch to energy-efficient bulbs, and the big motivation for suggesting this plan is the savings.

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