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Amory Lovins

Cofounder and Chairman Emeritus
  • Strategic Analysis and Engagement

Physicist Amory Lovins (1947– ) is Cofounder (1982) and Chairman Emeritus of Rocky Mountain Institute, which he served as Chief Scientist 2007–19 and now supports as a contractor and Trustee; energy advisor to major firms and governments in 70+ countries for 45+ years; author of 31 books and more than 700 papers; and an integrative designer of superefficient buildings, factories, and vehicles.

Background

He has received the Blue Planet, Volvo, Zayed, Onassis, Nissan, Shingo, and Mitchell Prizes, the MacArthur and Ashoka Fellowships, the Happold, Benjamin Franklin, and Spencer Hutchens Medals, 12 honorary doctorates, and the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood (“alternative Nobel”), National Design, and World Technology Awards. In 2016, the President of Germany awarded him the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse).

A Harvard and Oxford dropout and former Oxford don, he’s an honorary US architect, Swedish engineering academician, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK). He has taught at ten universities, most recently the Naval Postgraduate School (Professor of Practice 2011–17) and Stanford University, where he’s currently Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Scholar of the Precourt Institute for Energy—but only teaching topics he’s never formally studied, so as to retain beginner’s mind. He served in 2011–18 on the National Petroleum Council and has advised the US Departments of Energy and Defense.

Time has named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers. His latest books, mostly coauthored, include Natural Capitalism (1999, www.natcap.org), Small Is Profitable (2002, www.smallisprofitable.org), Winning the Oil Endgame (2004, www.oilendgame.com), The Essential Amory Lovins (2011), and Reinventing Fire (2011, www.reinventingfire.com).

His main recent efforts include supporting RMI’s collaborative synthesis, for China’s National Development and Reform Commission, of an ambitious efficiency-and-renewables trajectory that informed the 13th Five Year Plan; helping the Government of India design transformational mobility; and exploring how to make integrative design the new normal, so investments to energy efficiency can yield increasing rather than diminishing returns.

His avocations include fine-art mountain and landscape photography (www.judyhill.com), writing, music, linguistics, great-ape language and conservation, and Taoism.

Location

Basalt, CO

Twitter

@AmoryLovins

Downloadable Bios

General Audience

Energy/Security Audience

Automotive/Transportation Audience

Architecture Audience

Chinese Language

Authored Works
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Four Revolutions in Electric Efficiency

In this paper from 1990, Amory Lovins discuses four changes impacting electricity demand. He argues that demand for electricity is altered profoundly by new technologies for improved end-use efficiency, new ways to finance and deliver those technologies to customers, cultural change within utilities, and regulatory reforms to reward efficient behavior.

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Abating Global Warming for Fun and Profit

In this letter to The Wall Street Journal, Amory Lovins provides a public rebuttal to the prevalent perception that preventing climate change is too expensive to warrant the effort. Lovins argues that inaccurate computer models have created incorrect estimates for the high cost of climate protection. He explains the failure…

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Make Fuel Efficiency Our Gulf Strategy

This article was originally published as an editorial in The New York Times. The authors argue that by making our use of energy more efficient, we can avoid using oil from the unstable Gulf region. They claim that America can roll back the oil dependence that perpetually holds our foreign…

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Making Markets in Resource Efficiency

It is generally cheaper to save resources than to supply them, but often there is no market in which the value of improved resource productivity can be discovered and expressed so that efficient use and increased supply can directly compete. This 1989 contribution to a Festschrift for Prof. Dr. Ernst…

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Abating Air Pollution at Negative Cost

This article argues that maximizing the efficient end-use of energy is the most effective way to avoid environmental pollution. In this piece, Amory Lovins details various methods of profitably reducing pollution, including decoupling utility energy sales from profits and reinvesting efficiency savings into cleanup efforts. He analyzes the environmental impacts…

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Oil Risk Insurance: Choosing the Best Buy

This article was written in response to the 1988 report by the Government Accountability Office that argues for supply-side insurance to hedge against oil risks. Amory Lovins argues that the best way to prevent surprises to oil price and supply is to wring more work from the energy that is…

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CAFE Signals Gas-Mileage Efficiency

In this response to an editorial in The Wall Street Journal criticizing CAFE standards, Amory Lovins describes the failure of the free market to accurately signal the social benefits of efficient vehicles. Lovins supports CAFE standards as an effective tool for improving automotive efficiency. He describes how efficiency standards save…

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Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel?

In this commentary in The Wall Street Journal, Amory Lovins responds to the Department of the Interior’s proposals to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Instead of drilling for oil, the federal government could place higher efficiency standards on automobiles and buildings. Efficiency measures such as these…

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Energy: The Avoidable Oil Crisis

This article, published after the oil shocks of the 1970s, details strategies for reducing oil shortages and keeping costs low, thereby preventing another oil crisis. The authors see three possible strategies for responding to oil shocks: protectionism, trade, and substitution. While they explain how each of these strategies could help…