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And now, RMI publishes what is to become yet another classic, Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era. Built on 30 years of research, Reinventing Fire is perhaps one of the most comprehensive reference books on all aspects of the energy economy. It starts with the hypothesis that the United States could stop using oil and coal by 2050, and presents the business case for this transformation. Amory Lovins et al do not presume to do so by freezing growth or presuming to halt population growth, as was the premise for the Bruntland report on sustainability, but accept that by 2050, the US is likely to have a 158% bigger economy. It should be acknowledged that the book is very US centric, and does not account for the uncertainties of global economies. Yet, perhaps better to propose a roadmap which is within ones purview, then adjust accordingly.
The goal is for 70%-bigger of US Buildings use 54% – 69% less energy by 2050, which is interesting to compare with the Net Zero goal for all new buildings and renovations by 2030 in the Architecture 2030 challenge. But where Architecture 2030 focuses on motivation, and policy, RMI takes more of an product and systems goal to developing energy targets. The text is peppered with examples, sample innovative products, and a smorgasborg of approaches to changing the current paradigm.
The conclusion of the building sector offered perhaps the most succinct insight in identifying six imperatives for change. These include the need to make energy use more transparent, and apply
transdisciplinary insight and entrepreneurship to retrofit existing buildings. Financing, policies and utility incentives were next on the list to support the change. And finally, but perhaps one of the hardest (emphasis mine) to overhaul how we train and educate how a building should be designed, built and maintained. In essence, re-inventing the built environment.