For a lifetime of achievement ranging from pioneering scientific discoveries in experimental nuclear and particle physics to innovations in science, technology, and public policy for energy conservation that continue to benefit humanity.
From his beginnings in experimental particle physics, Dr. Rosenfeld has brought a unique combination of vision, rigor, and persistence to his multifaceted energy research and public policy career.
Dr. Rosenfeld received his Ph.D. in 1954 from the University of Chicago as a research student of Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi. In 1955, he joined Nobel Laureate Luis W. Alvarez at the University of California Berkeley, where, during the next 18 years, he was a key developer of bubble chambers, particularly the hardware and software for photographing, measuring, and analyzing the data.
In 1973, when OPEC embargoed oil sales to the West, Dr. Rosenfeld recognized the untapped potential for energy savings in the buildings sector, which is responsible for one third of total primary energy consumption (with electricity comprising about two thirds of the building sector primary energy use), and he redirected his career into energy research. In 1975, he formed the Energy Efficient Buildings Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), later named the Center for Building Science. He led the Center until 1994. There he brought together a multi-disciplinary group of researchers to address a broad range of energy efficiency technologies. The Center developed electronic ballasts for fluorescent lamps (which led to compact fluorescent lamps), low-emissivity windows, and the development of what is now called DOE-2, a computer program for energy analysis and building design, for which Dr. Rosenfeld was personally responsible.
In 2001, the National Research Council (NRC) published a study on energy efficiency research carried out at the Department of Enegy's national laboratories from 1973 to 2000.1 The NRC estimated that the U.S. had realized $30 billion (1999 USD) in net economic benefits between 1978 and 2000, with electronic ballasts contributing $15 billion and low-emissivity windows contributing $8 billion, a combined three-fourths of the total savings of $30 billion from all the laboratories.
These savings of $30 billion over 25 years are tiny compared to today's annual savings from energy efficiency in all sectors (buildings, industry, and transportation), which have grown to several hundred billion dollars a year.
The NRC study also gave credit to the DOE-2 computer tool, which had over 1,000 users worldwide. Based on a user survey, it is used in 15 percent of all commercial construction in the U.S. and has yielded average energy savings of 22 percent compared to designing without the tool.
Dr. Rosenfeld led the way into the exploration of two other technologies that are now on trajectories to yield significant energy and environmental impacts. In 1985, recognizing that the solar reflectance of hot, dark roofs and pavements raised electricity demand for air conditioning by 20 percent in the summer (as well as increasing smog), he co-founded, with Dr. Hashem Akbari of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Heat Islands Research Project at LBNL, which has since conducted groundbreaking research on the potential for shade trees and cool roofing and paving materials to reduce the urban heat islands effect. The group is now working with manufacturers of roofing and paving materials to develop cool colored pigments and roofing for both cars and buildings. Since 2005, the California new buildings energy efficiency standards have required that flat roofs shall be white. Sloping roofs (a more prominent feature of the architecture) can still be colored, but starting in 2008 they must use the new cool pigments. Florida and Georgia now require cool roofs, and other states are beginning to adopt them as well.
Beyond technology development, Dr. Rosenfeld has been involved in formulating analyses and policies that continue to impact energy savings worldwide. He led the effort to develop "conservation supply curves." These curves are now used worldwide, allowing straightforward comparisons of both the cost and the quantity of conservation with those of new energy supplies.
Among his public policy roles, where he brought his unique perspective founded in physics to address pressing energy challenges, he was Senior Advisor for the Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy from 1994 to 1999. Currently, he is serving his second term on the California Energy Commission, where he serves as the chairman of the Research, Development, and Demonstration Committee and the Dynamic Pricing Committee and as the second member of the Energy Efficiency Committee.
Dr. Rosenfeld's honors include the Leo Szilard Award for Physics in the Public Interest (1986) and the Carnot Award for Energy Efficiency from the U.S. Department of Energy (1993). He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Durham. He is the co-founder of the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE), the University of California's Institute for Energy Efficiency (CIEE), and the Washington-based Center for Energy and Climate Solutions (CECS).
Back to 2000's Laureates