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President Obama giving “Godfather” a medal

February 1st, 2013 · No Comments

Later today (scheduled for 1415 eastern), President Obama will award the National Medal of Technology to a true hero: Art Rosenfeld.

Simply put, Art’s is a name that every American should know.

He has had a profound impact on essentially all of our lives.

And, if there is any real regret to be had, it is that our national polity has been so inept that Art’s work has not impacted us even more significantly.

Called by many “the Godfather of Energy Efficiency“, Rosenfeld has help drive many significant advances in American energy efficiency standards and help establish core infrastructure to enable future advances. He is, quite simply, one of the greatest achievers/heros of ‘invisible energy‘ and his quite tangible achievements remain invisible to most Americans.

Rosenfeld founded the Center for Building Science at the Berkeley Lab back in 1975 and served for ten years on the California Energy Commission (retiring from there in 2010).

Rosenfeld has had such an impact that a unit of measurement exists:

the Rosenfeld (symbol: Rs). One Rosenfeld is equal to 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year, which represents the electrical output of one 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant under a set of standard assumptions. In reference to such a standard coal plant, one rosenfeld of saved electricity also avoids emissions of 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

While Art Rosenfeld is just one man, we might say that he is prolific because his work is responsible for 10s (and quite likely 100s) of Rosenfelds.

One might expect that the Secretary of Energy (whose resignation has just become public) had a role in having this award event occur:

When U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu appeared on the “The Daily Show” in July 2009, he bantered with host Jon Stewart about energy-efficient “white roofs,” a powerful tool in the race to combat climate change.

Chu credited much of the research on white roofs to “Art Rosenfeld” …

Art is admired the world over,” Chu said in an interview with the Mercury News. “He’s a very distinguished physicist who recognized that the energy problem is huge. Art was my example of someone who said, ‘I have to stop staying on the sidelines, and get involved.’ “

To get a sense of Rosenfeld, this article is a good place to start:

The oil embargo of 1973 prompted him to make a career switch.

“I’d lived abroad, and it was a basic fact that the Japanese and the Europeans use a lot less energy than Americans,” said Rosenfeld. “One Friday night I was in my office and I realized that all of the lights were on in the building. It took me half an hour to go around and turn them all off. Some of the light switches were hard to find; there were bookshelves in front of them.”

Today, President Obama is giving an award to a true American hero, “The Godfather of Energy Efficiency”.

Tomorrow (and for all the days that follow), let us hope that President Obama works his hardest to create more Rosenfelds.

Related: The White House just announced that the President accepted the resignation of the Secretary of Energy. Secretary Chu’s well-worth reading letter to DOE staff.

Office of the Press Secretary
February 1, 2013

Statement from the President on Secretary Steven Chu

I want to thank Secretary Chu for his dedicated service on behalf of the American people. As a Nobel Prize winning scientist, Steve brought to the Energy Department a unique understanding of both the urgent challenge presented by climate change and the tremendous opportunity that clean energy represents for our economy. And during his time as Secretary, Steve helped my Administration move America towards real energy independence. Over the past four years, we have doubled the use of renewable energy, dramatically reduced our dependence on foreign oil, and put our country on a path to win the global race for clean energy jobs. Thanks to Steve, we also expanded support for our brightest engineers and entrepreneurs as they pursue groundbreaking innovations that could transform our energy future. I am grateful that Steve agreed to join in my Cabinet and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

See after fold for live feed from White House which, at 1415, should have the medal award.

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Tags: Energy · energy efficiency · Obama Administration