Energy Efficiency Pioneer, Arthur Rosenfeld, Dies at Age 90

The New York Times reported in its January 30, 2017 edition the passing of Arthur Rosenfeld.  Widely recognized as the “father of energy efficiency”, Rosenfeld diligently pursued energy efficiency measures until his retirement at age 83, after which he continued to speak frequently on methods to reduce electricity consumption.

Dr. Rosenfeld’s first foray into the energy efficiency field began during the first Arab oil embargo of 1973.  Recognizing that reducing the consumption of electricity would also reduce the use of fossil fuels, Dr. Rosenfeld organized other scientists from his position at U. C. Berkeley to advocate for the development of more energy efficient buildings by improving the efficiency of air conditioners and refrigerators.  His efforts ultimately led to the implementation of energy efficiency standards for home appliances and the first state energy-efficient building code in California.

Dr. Rosenfeld received his bachelor’s degree at age 18 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and his Ph.D from the University of Chicago at age 28.  Dr. Rosenfeld studied physics at the University of Chicago under Enrico Fermi who created the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction. In 2006, President George W. Bush presented Dr. Rosenfeld with the Enrico Fermi Award, one of the country’s top science awards.

California Governor Jerry Brown was a great admirer of Dr. Rosenfeld.  The two met over dinner in the mid-1970s and discussed the proposed Sundesert nuclear power plant.  Dr. Rosenfeld’s explanation that more energy efficient refrigerators alone could obviate the need for the new generation resource led to the demise of the Sundesert proposal.  Governor Brown observed in a statement regarding Dr. Rosenfeld’s passing that:  “His pathbreaking ideas (on energy efficiency) transformed our energy sector from one of massive waste to increasingly elegant efficiency.  I will miss him.”