RMI Outlet, Rocky Mountain Institute’s blog, explores topics critical to RMI’s mission to transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future.
Plug Into New Ideas
This week, more than 130 cleantech leaders gathered to listen to renowned sustainability consultant Amory Lovins at the Northwest Energy Angels (client) luncheon hosted at REI. Lovins, who dropped out of Harvard but has 11 honorary doctorates, 29 book titles in his name (working on his 30th), named TIME’s Hero of the Planet, among dozens of other accolades, co-founded one of the most influential non-profits focused on the efficient and restorative use of resources – Rocky Mountain Institute.
For four decades we have known modern energy systems could threaten civilisation in two ways—climate change and nuclear proliferation—so we must reject both fates, not trade one for the other. New nuclear build worsens both problems. It provides do-it-yourself bomb kits in civilian disguise. It reduces and retards climate protection by saving 2-10 times less carbon per dollar—and 20-40 times slower—than superior low- and no-carbon competitors. But taking economics seriously and buying those cheaper options instead can protect climate, peace and profits.
The United States uses a tremendous amount of oil each year—enough to fill a large football stadium more than 350 times. More than half of this oil is imported, partly from volatile Middle Eastern countries. Why do we consume so much? We drive the kids to soccer games. We ship orange juice from Florida to Maine. We make business trips from Denver to Houston. More than 70% of U.S. oil in 2009 was used to the transport of people and goods. Such a heavy reliance on oil to sustain our modern lifestyles leaves us defenseless when gas prices soar to over $4 per gallon.
The term, “coopetition” is often thrown around RMI. It describes a spirit embraced by innovative companies to set aside their differences and collaborate toward a common goal—one that is often much bigger and more ambitious than what an organization could reasonably achieve alone.
The black box “voodoo” that many consider building energy modeling to be today is being dragged into the spotlight. New, more aggressive building efficiency standards, codes and disclosure rules such as those implemented in San Francisco, New York City and Washington, D.C., are already acting as change agents, driving greater focus on the importance of energy modeling as an accurate predictor of true energy use.