The Science of Sustainability

Reporter's Notes: The Godfather of Green

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Don’t forget to turn off the lights next time you leave a room. You’ll make an 83-year-old physicist, with a passion for saving kilowatts, very happy

Do you know what the biggest energy drain is on your house? Well, if you don’t have a hot tub, it’s heating and cooling your house. My head is swimming with energy efficiency facts after producing this week’s QUEST radio piece on efficiency guru Art Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld is retiring, stepping down after two terms on the California Energy Commission. The guy has spent the past thirty five years fighting for us, California’s energy consumers. While electricity consumption has risen, sharply, in the rest of the country, California’s electricity use, per capita, has remained nearly flat since the early 1970’s. It is not that we are any less addicted to our flat screen TVs and personal computers, it’s that the state, thanks in large part to Rosenfeld’s dogged persistence, has put in place some of the strictest energy standards in the world. His passion for saving killowatts has saved billions on utility bills and improved air quality.

As it goes with people who are driven by a cause, the 83-year-old physicist is not really retiring. Rosenfeld will be returning to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs a few days a week to continue his research on low reflective white roof tops. His work has shown white roofs can cut electricity use by 15-percent by reducing the need for air conditioning and they combat climate change at the same time. White roofs are now mandatory on commercial buildings in California, thanks, in part, to Rosenfeld. Check out our radio story on cool roofs.

And by the way, don’t forget to turn off the lights next time you leave a room. You’ll make an 83-year-old physicist, with a passion for saving kilowatts, very happy.

Listen to The Godfather of Green radio report online.

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Category: Environment, Physics, Radio

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About the Author ()

Andrea is KQED's Senior Science Editor . Andrea was born in Los Angeles and discovered radio news through listening to her college radio station. With a curious mind and a love for telling stories, she set off for Tampa where she landed her first job as a reporter for Florida Public Radio. After three years reporting in an unbearably humid climate and a brief stint as a miscast opera reporter, Andrea returned to L.A. to work for public radio, then for television news and finally as a reporter for CBS radio. Andrea has been at KQED for over twelve years, working first as a producer for Forum, and then as the senior producer for The California Report. She is now KQED's Senior Science and Environment Editor and narrates the QUEST television program. Andrea says she feels lucky to cover emerging science and environmental trends in a place where geek is chic.
  • http://www.my-air-conditioner.com marcus

    I read a study in Florida that white tile roofs and white metal roofs transferred the least heat load to the structure . White metal was slightly more effective only because at night it radiated heat back out more quickly than the tile did.