Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

The Rosenfeld Effect

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I’m embarrassed to admit that, like John Stewart, I hadn’t heard of Art Rosenfeld either until very recently. Already he’s one of my heroes. Energy efficiency is absolutely the most important energy issue. That means not only creating cars, appliances, and homes that use less energy, but using those devices less. (Yes, I am aware of the irony of typing these words into a computer so that other people may read these words from their computers.) Finding and improving alternative and renewable energy resources is important, but is secondary to maximizing efficiency. Invoking my favorite energy analogy, I’ll use finances as a familiar example. It’s great for individuals to find new ways to make money, but if the focus on that objective means forgetting inefficient expenditures, late payment fees or interest charges on credit cards spring to mind, then each dollar earned from that new revenue provides that much less utility.

A common complaint against renewable energy sources is that they cannot provide a significant proportion of U.S. consumption. Currently it accounts for just over 7% of our energy resources (DOE, EIA), but if we cut consumption by half, a difficult but definitely accomplishable objective, without any additional advancements or investments in renewables, it would suddenly account for 15%. Just look at the figure describing “The Rosenfeld Effect.” California’s electricity consumption has remained relatively flat for almost four decades. That means that while U.S. consumption has risen by nearly 60%, California spends about the same on energy now as they did in 1973! And that’s the beauty of energy efficiency: it SAVES money! Yeah, I dig Art Rosenfeld’s energy stuff. Top-notch weatherizing guy.

Art Rosenfeld, the ‘godfather’ of energy efficiency

Posted: 12/27/2009 12:01:00 AM PST

Updated: 12/27/2009 12:17:06 PM PST

When U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu appeared on the “The Daily Show” in July, he bantered with host Jon Stewart about energy-efficient “white roofs,” a powerful tool in the race to combat climate change.

Chu credited much of the research on white roofs to “Art Rosenfeld, one of my local heroes.” “Rosenfeld. I love his energy stuff,” cracked Stewart, who didn’t appear to know who he is. “Top-notch weatherizing guy.”

But Rosenfeld, 83, is getting a lot of credit these days — credit many feel is long overdue. Often referred to as the “godfather” of energy efficiency, Rosenfeld spent much of his career teaching physics at UC-Berkeley and at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He has served on the California Energy Commission since 2000 and steps down Jan. 13, when his current term expires.

Rosenfeld has long championed energy efficiency as the “low-hanging fruit” in the battle against climate change, and it irks him that solar power has traditionally gotten more attention. He has dedicated his life to making homes, commercial buildings and appliances — including lighting, refrigerators and televisions — more energy efficient. And his ideas finally have political capital: President Barack Obama regularly stresses energy efficiency as key to reducing carbon emissions, saving consumers money and creating jobs.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

December 27th, 2009 at 6:00 am