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Monday Reads: The Rosenfeld Edition

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View Shirley Hao's blog posts
29 March 2010, 1:24 PM
A new entry to the energy efficiency lexicon?
The godfather of energy efficiency at work. (Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Dust off those cobwebs from your memories of high school science. Can you describe what these words have in common: tesla, volt, mach?

While some may be saying, “Cars!” (Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt, and, of course, Speed Racer’s Mach 5), the actual answer is: “Scientific units named after people.” Nikola Tesla (magnetic field strength); Alessandro Volt (electrical potential difference); and Ernst Mach (an object’s speed when traveling at the speed of sound).

To these and dozens of other units-formerly-known-as-people, we may soon be adding the Rosenfeld.

Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld has spearheaded energy saving techniques since the oil embargo crisis in the 1970s. Already well known within energy circles, the good doctor was highlighted to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show viewers last year during an interview with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (6:49):



Earlier this month, a group of more than 50 scientists and energy conservation advocates remarked on the lack of a standard for defining electricity savings. Sure, we might say, “this measure is the equivalent of eliminating x coal-fired power plants!” But are we talking little baby power plants, or big Grandpappy-sized ones? So that’s when the fine print (“…500 MW existing coal plant operating at a 70% capacity factor with 7% T&D losses…”) is added, and people’s eyes start glazing over.

The Rosenfeld would be a new metric that provides a standardized measurement of energy and CO2 emissions savings, bringing clarity and simplicity to describing energy efficient applications. Read the paper, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, for more details on the proposed metric.

With its abundance of data and technical terminology, energy efficiency might seem a mystifyingly elusive concept. Dr. Rosenfeld puts it simply:

The cheapest energy is what you don't use.

Find more on energy efficiency at Earthjustice's United States of Efficiency campaign.


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