For Immediate Release: March 10, 2010
Media Contact: Adam Gottlieb - 916-654-4989


New Energy Saving Term - the 'Rosenfeld'-
Named After Energy Efficiency Pioneer
Arthur Rosenfeld Honored by Colleagues at UCD Symposium

SACRAMENTO - The watt. The volt. The ohm. All electrical terms are named after famous engineers and physicists from the 18th and 19th century. Now, an acclaimed 20th century scientist is lending his name to a new unit of energy savings - the 'Rosenfeld.'

The proposed term - a 'Rosenfeld' - would represent the electricity savings of 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year -- the annual output of an existing 500 megawatt coal-fired power plant - and avoid generating three million metric tons of CO2 emissions. The new energy-savings measurement term was authored by 54 scientists from 26 research institutions and announced in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters.

There is no other dedicated individual who deserves this accolade more than Art Rosenfeld," said Karen Douglas, California Energy Commission Chairman. "Art's ardent pursuit of energy efficiency has saved enormous amounts of energy and money for California ratepayers. I am honored to have worked with this extraordinary gentleman advancing energy efficiency in California," Douglas added.

Dr. Rosenfeld frequently speaks of energy savings in terms of avoiding building power plants saying that the concept of billions of avoided kilowatt-hours was too much of an abstraction for most people to contemplate. One 'Rosenfeld' equals amount of electricity needed to power an average American city with a population of a 250,000 people for one year. The announcement came at a symposium attended by 400 leading energy efficiency experts, climate scientists, and policy analysts at University of California, Davis.

In his proclamation to Dr. Rosenfeld on the conclusion of his second five-year term at the Energy Commission, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated, "From Berkeley, California to Washington, D.C. to Beijing, Arthur Rosenfeld is celebrated as the most distinguished scientific contributor to the critically important field of energy efficiency. For more than 35 years, Arthur Rosenfeld's illustrious work has laid the foundation of California's energy policy by promoting the elegant idea that using energy more efficiently is cheaper and smarter than building power plants."

Although adoption of the term "Rosenfeld" honors the energy accomplishments of the man some call "the father of energy efficiency," the 83-year-old scientist began his career in physics, when he was one of the last graduate students studying under Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi. Joining the Department of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley after receiving his Ph.D. in 1954, he eventually led the Nobel prize-winning particle physics group of Luis Alvarez at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory until 1974. It wasn't until the energy crisis in the 1970s, that Rosenfeld changed his focus to energy efficiency.

When the 1974 OPEC oil embargo cut off oil supplies to many Western nations, California motorists found themselves waiting in long lines to buy gasoline. Rosenfeld began to consider how much petroleum was being wasted to keep unneeded lights burning in his office building. His calculations led him to form the Center for Building Science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Under his leadership, the Center developed electronic ballasts that led to the design of compact fluorescent lamps. The Center also created low-emissivity windows and a computer program to allow architects to analyze the energy repercussions of their building designs.

Rosenfeld became an outspoken advocate of enlightened energy policy. In 1994, he became the Senior Adviser to the U.S. Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In 2002, Governor Gray Davis appointed him to the five-person California Energy Commission. Reappointed to the position by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, Dr. Rosenfeld continued to advocate for such energy saving improvements as 'cool roofs' that reflect summer heat; energy standards for external power supplies that constantly suck energy (i.e. "energy vampires") and efficiency standards for TVs and other electronics.

By pushing for building and appliance standards, demand-side management and other conservation and efficiency measures, Dr. Rosenfeld influenced energy policy not only in California but in other states, at the national level, and around the world. "Art is to energy efficiency what Einstein is to relativity," said Sheryl Carter, co-director of the energy program for Natural Resources Defense Council.

A professor emeritus at UC Berkeley, Dr. Rosenfeld received the nation's highest scientific honor, the Enrico Fermi Award in 2006. U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman presented the prestigious science and technology award on the physicist's 80th birthday. The resolution read "...on behalf of the President of the United States 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. This award recognizes scientists of international stature for their lifetimes of exceptional achievement in the development, use, control, or production of energy."

Art Rosenfeld 
receives award at the Rosenfeld Symposium at UCD

When Rosenfeld left the California Energy Commission in January 2010 to return to his office at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Governor Schwarzenegger issued a proclamation that proclaimed "Arthur Rosenfeld to be a great friend to California, a most-dedicated public servant, an unrivaled scientific mind and a true energy-efficiency action hero."

And, appropriately, Dr. Rosenfeld will soon be immortalized by his peers as a unit of energy savings - the "Rosenfeld."


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Created by the Legislature in 1974, the California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The Energy Commission has five major responsibilities: forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards; developing energy technologies and supporting renewable energy; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergency.