Celebrating Solutions: Thirty Years of RMI

Rocky Mountain Institute turns 30 this year—an important milestone for us. RMI has long been an essential voice and player in energy and resource efficiency.

Today, green buildings, energy efficiency, and renewables are commonly recognized topics. In 1982? Not so much.

That year, a gallon of gas cost $1.25, there were boasts of “smaller and cheaper electronic gadgets,” and the first CD player was introduced. Voicemail technology was patented and its first greeting recorded; light years away, the iPhone and iPad were just a gleam in Steve Jobs’ eye.

In March 1982, a headline in the New York Times announced, “Energy Shortage Eases Materially,” with the corresponding article stating, “every day brings new announcements of price reductions for gasoline as world oil prices slide. And supplies—barring an upheaval in the Middle East—appear increasingly available.” What a roller-coaster ride we’ve been on with oil prices since then!

It’s also when, in graduate school, I read Amory Lovins’ book Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace, which articulated two energy choices then facing the nation: a “hard path” (centralized, incremental) and a “soft path,” or the “prompt and serious commitment to efficient use of energy, and the rapid development of renewable energy sources.”

I was hooked.

RMI—and the sectors in which we work—have certainly come a long way in 30 years! But we still have a ways to go.

RMI’s work is more important than ever, today and going forward. This anniversary year, we’re not only taking stock of our past accomplishments but also ramping up our efforts to meet the challenges outlined in Reinventing Fire: Bold Solutions for the New Energy Era.

A major goal of RMI is to continually and meaningfully engage with our partners and supporters—both old and new—who are critical to our ability to fulfill our mission. Our shared vision keeps us motivated and focused on the outcomes we all want to achieve.

One exciting opportunity to do this is our upcoming 30th anniversary event on May 10 at the Empire State Building. We chose this venue—or perhaps I should say it chose RMI—because of the breakthrough deep retrofit that RMI helped lead several years ago. The results offer an example that can be replicated in commercial buildings around the world.

On May 10, the 61st floor of the Empire State Building will be transformed into a dynamic and interesting venue, hosting:

  • RMI staff to share the latest news about our initiatives
  • Actress Anna Deavere Smith to deliver a unique performance
  • An informative and spirited conversation among Amory, Empire State Building owner Tony Malkin, and Emmy award-winning journalist Frank Sesno

In addition, our colleagues from the Dutch Postcode Lottery will present the U.S. launch of this year’s Green Challenge. Watch for more exciting information about that.

We look forward to celebrating RMI’s 30th year with all of you. Stay tuned to our blogs, Spark, Facebook, and Twitter outlets to learn more about how we are kicking off—from the heights of the Empire State Building—the next phase of RMI continuing to challenge conventional thinking and doing. Please join us on the journey.