As the energy transition becomes unstoppable, we must make sure it gains enough speed to avert catastrophic warming

By Jules Kortenhorst, Chief Executive Officer at Rocky Mountain Institute

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A panel at Davos on realizing the energy transition.

This past July, we at Rocky Mountain Institute were struck in a very personal way by the urgency of the threat of climate change as an out-of-control forest fire raced down the mountainsides surrounding the RMI Innovation Center in Basalt, Colorado. Brave firefighters were able to halt the fire a quarter-mile from our office, but three of our neighbors’ homes were lost. It was a stark reminder that we all face the challenges of a warming world, including more frequent and intense droughts and more devastating fires, like the tragedy in Paradise, California, this past fall. This means that we must use new energy technologies to be better prepared (see “Seeking Resilience in the ‘New Climate Normal’”), but above all it means that we must do everything in our power to speed up the energy transition and slow down climate change. …


Creating Wealth Out of Nothing

By Amory Lovins, Cofounder, Chief Scientist, and Chairman Emeritus of Rocky Mountain Institute

Three guesses: is this article about a new, cheaper renewable technology? a cheaper, safer nuclear fission or fusion technology? A new technology to extract more fossil fuel at lower cost?

None of the above. It’s about neither energy supply nor new technology. It’s about a more important but far less familiar story: how smarter design can better apply existing technologies to create radical energy efficiency at far lower cost. That game-changing linkup creates a potential new competitor to all forms of energy supply. Every year, it could save the world many trillions of dollars’ worth of fossil fuels more than it costs. …


News From Around the Institute

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Members of the Global Cooling Prize team and RMI’s China team launch the international competition in Beijing.

COOLING PEOPLE WITHOUT WARMING THE PLANET

The Global Cooling Prize is an international competition that calls on innovators to develop a breakthrough residential cooling technology that will provide people around the world access to cooling without warming the planet. The competition was launched in November 2018 by RMI, Mission Innovation, and the Government of India. In February 2019, the coalition hosted an event in Beijing to engage policymakers and leading AC manufacturers, as China is both the largest manufacturer of room air conditioners in the world today and the largest market for room air conditioners sold annually. The winning technology is expected to prevent up to 75 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by 2050 and put the world on a pathway to mitigate up to 0.5°C …


What began as a memorial to one young person is touching the lives of many — and changing the world

By Kelly Vaughn, Marketing Director for Development at Rocky Mountain Institute and Laurie Stone, Senior Writer/Editor at Rocky Mountain Institute

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This past April, the Rocky Mountain Institute community mourned the loss of longtime friend, supporter, and partner, Bud Konheim (pictured left). Bud, who was the chief executive officer of Nicole Miller Inc., worked with RMI to establish the Eric Konheim Memorial Fund to celebrate the memory of his son, who died in a kayaking accident in 1991 at age 28. At the time, the Konheim family discovered tens of thousands of dollars hid den in Eric’s pillow. …


Communities around the world are taking steps to improve their resilience against extreme weather events

By Kelly Vaughn, Marketing Director for Development at Rocky Mountain Institute

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This family’s property was spared in the Lake Christine Fire, but others were not so lucky.

At dusk on July 3, 2018, my five-year-old daughter, my husband, and I watched as a wall of flames rose in the place of the sun and advanced ominously over a hill within view of our home in Basalt, Colorado.

We evacuated that night. My husband and I made a quick pact to focus our efforts: if it’s irreplaceable, bring it. Otherwise, it stays. Within 15 minutes and with the help of friends we loaded our car with a seemingly random mix of important documents, photos, and hard drives.

We spent the next two weeks evacuated due to the Lake Christine Fire, and we were graciously welcomed by a mix of family, friends, and families of friends. We were glued to our phones following emergency alerts and Twitter updates, listening to streamed community meetings, and constantly checking in with neighbors on the status of our and other homes on Ridge Road, which was ground zero for “holding the line” above the town of Basalt. …


Young social activists and student and nonprofit leaders are helping to accelerate the energy transition from the ground up

By Laurie Stone, Senior Writer/Editor at Rocky Mountain Institute.

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In the face of growing climate change and what is seen by many as insufficient concrete action, young people all over the world are stepping up to take a stand and make a difference. Hundreds of thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students from over 100 countries recently walked out of their classrooms to participate in school strikes against climate change inaction. College students are asking for more renewable energy and sustainability courses and programs. Millennial entrepreneurs are starting businesses to tackle climate change in innovative ways. And more young people are joining Rocky Mountain Institute to help create the world they want. …


Nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement. RMI is helping the global financial system underwrite their climate actions

By David Labrador, Senior Writer/Editor at Rocky Mountain Institute.

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In total, 197 countries made commitments in the Paris Agreement to contribute to the fight against climate change, and now it’s all got to be paid for. Suddenly, the whole globe is in the market for clean energy and energy efficiency, and Rocky Mountain Institute’s expertise in market-based solutions that shift away from fossil fuels is needed on a global scale. …


RMI is showing the world how working with hundreds of buildings at once has sustainability impacts greater than the sum of their parts

By David Labrador, Senior Writer/Editor at Rocky Mountain Institute.

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Arizona State University is working to be climate neutral by 2025.

Rocky Mountain Institute wants to coordinate your entire neighborhood to save you money, and save the climate. For years we built or renovated single buildings — like New York’s iconic Empire State Building — to show how energy efficiency improvements can save energy and costs. But then we widened our focus to whole districts of buildings, and discovered new ways to harness advances in clean energy to create an entirely new business model that allows for sustainability benefits that go far beyond economies of scale. …


How RMI’s cofounder effects change and inspires energy change-makers around the world

By Ryan Laemel, Manager in Rocky Mountain Institute’s India Program.

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Photo: Map, iStock.com; Amory, © Judy Hill Lovins

As the wheels kiss the tarmac good-bye, Aspen, Colorado’s snow-capped mountains come into view. I can see Amory Lovins, RMI’s cofounder and chief scientist, in the front row of our tiny plane, resting his arms at his sides after the 40th f lap of his “wings.” Amory enthusiastically f laps his arms during takeoff on every flight. By my rough math, Amory’s annual flap count must be well over 10,000. While he knows that he’s inside the boundary layer, with a twinkle he says, “It always seems to work!” and considers it an interesting sociological experiment with his cabinmates. It’s 7:09 a.m. on March 21, 2018, and we’re on our way to Cancun, Mexico, to meet with energy regulators. …


An interview with RMI Managing Director Lena Hansen

By Laurie Stone, Senior Writer/Editor at Rocky Mountain Institute.

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Photo: RMI

Lena Hansen started at Rocky Mountain Institute as an intern and is now the managing director of RMI’s China Program, based in Beijing. She leads a team of 20 who advise and support China’s energy transition in the areas of power market reform, city carbon peaking, near-zero carbon development, and freight electrification. Prior to joining the China Program, Lena led RMI’s US Electricity Program and co-founded RMI’s Electricity Innovation Lab (e⁻Lab), a unique multiyear collaboration of leading power sector decision makers who create transformational solutions. …

About

Rocky Mountain Institute

Founded in 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute is a nonprofit that transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure future. http://www.rmi.org

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