Rosenfeld Shares Opinions On Energy Conservation

Friday, August 03, 2007

It seems obvious now, but there was a time when no one thought we'd have to figure out ways to conserve energy. But then the 1970's oil embargo hit and along with disco and bad hair, energy conservation was upon us. One of the fathers of conservation was, and is, a Berkeley physicist whose work is the foundation of what we take for granted today.

Art Rosenfeld is the unassuming 80-something superhero of energy conservation and now, by extension, global warming prevention.

Art Rosenfeld, Energy Commissioner: "As early as 1975 my graduate student Dave Goldstein and I said we should be able to keep energy use per person constant and by golly, we've done it."

Today he's a State Energy Commissioner, and a visitor at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Thirty years ago, he was a physicist there. In 1973 he turned his naturally curious mind to a national crisis, the oil embargo. As a top level physicist, he had traveled the world, and knew the Europeans used far less oil, and still managed not to freeze in the dark. No one, certainly not the government, asked him to direct his considerable brain power to energy conservation. He just did.

Art Rosenfeld: "The government was asleep at the switch."

Rosenfeld formed a department of scientists at Lawrence Berkeley Lab whose work led to the compact fluorescent light bulb, energy efficient windows, furnaces and refrigerators - to name a few. When he was awarded one of physics most prestigious awards, the Fermi Award for lifetime achievement last year, the Department of Energy credited his work with saving more than $200-billion dollars worth of electricity.

Steve McCarty, PG&E: "Art's the father of energy efficiency."

Steve McCarty is director of PG&E's energy efficiency programs. He says Rosenfeld's research has helped prevent the need for 24 large new power plants and helped California avoid 125 million tons of C02.

Steve McCarty, PG&E: "Those of us who know him know he's not only brilliant but he's tenacious."

And he's got legions of past students who continue to pioneer energy efficiency. Scientists like Hasham Akbari who has done pioneering work on so-called heat islands - urban settings that cook in high temperatures. Akbari is now making breakthroughs in heat reflective automotive paints.

Hasham Akbari, scientist: "Every time that we go with an idea to Art, we can discuss it with him  first of all his door is always open. Then that idea is refined is being defined a lot better and chances are you would come from his office with ten more ideas."

Art Rosenfeld: "I direct research but I don't do any honest work any more."

ABC7's Heather Ishimaru: "Do you miss it?"

Art Rosenfeld: "Yes."

His primary role now is as a policy-maker on the Energy Commission. He has some very definite ideas about the state and national greenhouse gas goals.

Art Rosenfeld: "The President's energy goals are business as usual. They're goals that are so easy to accomplish that you trip over them. They're not serious goals. AB32 is a serious goal."

Rosenfeld is optimistic about the state's ambitious emissions reduction law AB32. But he says there's no silver bullet. It will require lots of research, and it could be expensive.

Art Rosenfeld: "We can get halfway there by improving easily by improving efficiency - that's what we've got to do first. Then we've got to go fro the other half with renewables, wind, geothermal, carbon sequestration, eventually have to we'll have to consider nuclear."

Rosenfeld has no intention of slowing down. He's headed to India with Governor Schwarzenegger this fall to discuss energy efficiency policies.


Eye To Eye: Art Rosenfeld (CBS Television)
California Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld is a pioneer in the energy conservation movement. He talks with John Blackstone.

16 Ideas for The Planet (Newsweek)
Energy efficiency is the ultimate answer - If we're going to survive global warming, there are two things we must do. We have to move in the direction of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, and we have to improve energy efficiency. You can measure it in different ways-passenger miles per gallon of gas, lumens per watt-but we need to think in terms of doubling efficiency. Not "conservation," which implies sacrifice. Efficiency doesn't involve sacrifice. If you compare a modern refrigerator with one from 1973, which was the year of the OPEC oil embargo, it's bigger, it's gotten rid of CFC refrigerants, its inflation-adjusted price is two thirds less-and it uses 75 percent less energy.

In Energy Conservation, Calif Sees Light (Washington Post)
At the height of the 1973 energy crisis, Arthur H. Rosenfeld had a revelation. Disturbed about having to spend half an hour in line at a gas station one Friday night, the particle physicist calculated that keeping his floor of offices brightly lit all weekend as usual would consume the equivalent of five gallons of gasoline. So Rosenfeld took what then seemed like a bold step: He turned off the lights

The Power of Less (UC Berkeley Magazine)
Rosenfeld has spent the past 33 years trying to fix what's wrong with the way we use energy, becoming, in the process, the invisible finger on light switches all over California and even the world. Considered "the father of energy efficiency," Rosenfeld left physics to lay the intellectual underpinnings of the new field at the Center for Building Science, which he founded at LBNL.

California Illuminates The World (onearth magazine)
Art Rosenfeld Helped Make California the most energy-efficient state in the country. Could he do the same for the whole world?

Art Rosenfeld's Energy Commission Page and Biography

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