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History

Rocky Mountain Institute was cofounded as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 1982 by Amory Lovins, its current chairman emeritus and chief scientist.

What we've created together

Pioneering the Soft Energy Path

Amory Lovins became interested in energy conservation during the 1970s oil crisis, and wrote a landmark article for Foreign Affairs, “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?” The article described the two energy choices then facing the nation: the hard path, continuing to rely on dirty centralized energy generation, and the soft path, combining energy efficiency with a shift to renewable supply. The article became the journal’s most reprinted article ever, and led President Jimmy Carter to invite Lovins to the Oval Office to have a discussion that helped form the president’s energy policy.

From a Private Mountain Home to Five Offices Worldwide

Lovins cofounded RMI in Snowmass, Colorado, to pioneer the soft energy path. RMI was initially housed in the Lovins’ private home, a passive solar, super-insulated showcase of efficiency technologies located at 8,000 feet elevation, and eventually moved into office space at John Denver’s Windstar Land Conservancy. The organization expanded to Boulder, Colorado, in 2004, and 10 years later Carbon War Room merged with and began operating as part of RMI. In 2015, RMI moved from the longtime RMI Snowmass location into its new net-zero energy RMI Innovation Center in nearby Basalt, Colorado. The organization now has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

RESOURCES

Article

Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken—Foreign Affairs, 1976

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Book

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, 1999

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Book

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, 2011

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