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Tang Prize laureate Arthur H. Rosenfeld dies

2017/01/28 19:17:25

Taipei, Jan. 28 (CNA) Arthur H. Rosenfeld, a recipient of Taiwan's prestigious Tang Prize in sustainable development, died in Berkeley, California on Friday. He was 90.

Rosenfeld, hailed as "The Godfather of Energy Efficiency," was a respected particle physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, before he devoted himself to energy efficiency and conservation.

He awakened to the importance of energy efficiency in 1973, when the oil embargo caused energy prices to soar and created long lines at gas stations.

Professor Ashok Gadgil, a protégé of Rosenfeld, said his mentor was able to lead an energy efficiency revolution because he asked "the right question."

"Before Art got involved, the standard question asked about energy was how can we supply enough to meet society's goals," Gadgil said when giving the laureate lecture in Rosenfeld's place at the Tang Prize awards ceremony in September 2016.

"Art reframed the question in a revolutionary way by asking how can we accomplish society's goals more efficiently and cheaply? This led to an entirely different discussion."

At that time, nobody understood what energy efficiency was, but Rosenfeld began by always turning off the lights when most of his colleagues would leave the lights on even when leaving for the weekend.

"The oil crises in the 1970s as well as a rising awareness of global warming and climate change make it clear to Art that energy was a central problem not just for the United States but for the sustainable future of humanity as a whole," Gadgil said.

His trailblazing efforts extended the energy issue to other directions, leading to the creation of products, including energy-saving bulbs and refrigerators.

He convinced California to implement energy-efficiency requirements, and the federal government followed California's lead by imposing its own efficiency requirements for appliances.

Born in Alabama in 1926, Rosenfeld began his career in experimental particle physics before changing his focus to energy after the 1970s oil crisis.

He formed the Center for Building Science at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1975 and served as its director from 1986 to 1994.

The center developed groundbreaking energy efficiency technologies such as low emissivity "smart windows," and high-frequency electronic ballasts for compact fluorescent lighting.

Rosenfeld also developed computer programs for building energy analysis.

A U.S. National Academy of Sciences study in 2001 showed that Rosenfeld's initiatives and innovations will have saved 7 billion tons of CO2 emissions and US$1.8 trillion in energy costs by 2030.

Rosenfeld went into public office in the 1990s, first serving as senior adviser to the U.S. Energy Department's assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy from 1994-1999, and later as a California energy commissioner from 2000-2010.

In 2009, he helped California pass the United States' first energy efficiency standards for televisions -- standards that the state estimated at the time would save consumers US$8.1 billion in energy costs over the following 10 years.

Rosenfeld's pioneering energy initiatives and standards have since been adopted in other countries, including China and India.

In 2008, he was one of the recipients of The Economist's annual Innovation Awards for his promotion of energy efficiency.

(By Lo Guang-jen and Lilian Wu)