Arthur Rosenfeld, the ‘father of energy efficiency’ has died

The AECB remembers Arthur who died last month aged 90.

Arthur became known as the ‘father of energy efficiency’ because of his work in energy-saving requirements for appliances and buildings. He went on to help lay foundations for federal energy-efficiency rules that are still in place today.

Back at the start of his career, Dr Rosenfield, a psysicist in California, was alarmed by the amount of energy wasted through leaving lights on and explored with other academics and experts what to do about the problem.

In 1975, he created the Energy Efficient Buildings Program (later renamed the Center for Building Science) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and started work on making appliances like refrigerators more energy efficient.

The Doctor’s ideas reached a top Californian energy official and as a result, energy-efficiency requirements for refrigerators and freezers sold in California went into effect in 1977. Standards on other appliances soon followed.

In 1978, partly due to Dr Rosenfeld’s research, the first state energy-efficient building code was adopted, sometimes known as the ‘Rosenfeld effect’. Whilst the rest of the nations energy use has climbed, California’s per capita electricity use has remained relatively steady since the mid 1070’s.

Dr Rosenfeld held an advisory role at the Department of Energy under President Clinton and served on the California Energy Commission from 2000 to 2010. Retiring at 83, Dr Rosenfeld continued his work speaking about cutting energy use. He was awarded the Enrico Fermi Award in 2006 and the National Medal of Technology in 2011.

In 2016 he received the Tang Prize, a recently established Taiwanese award sometimes referred to as Asia’s version of the Nobel.

David Olivier, on behalf of the AECB said;

“The right man in the right place:

California proved a receptive political environment for Art Rosenfeld to implement his ideas. He was not the only nuclear physicist to end up in a more socially useful career, i.e. as an energy expert who calculated and demonstrated the scope for radical improvements in energy efficiency.

EU legislation on more efficient lights and appliances 30 years later is in large part traceable to Art’s pioneering work. Other places could and should do the same.”