Arthur H. Rosenfeld

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Arthur H Rosenfeld (born 1927) is a former Commissioner of the California Energy Commission, serving from 2000 until his retirement in 2010.[1]

Arthur H. Rosenfeld
Born 1927 (age 86–87)
Birmingham, Alabama
Residence United States
Citizenship American
Nationality American
Institutions California Energy Commission, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Doctoral students Ronald Ross, William Humphrey, Ashok Gadgil, David Goldstein, Alan Meier, Karen Herter

Rosenfeld earned a PhD (1954) in Physics from the University of Chicago where he was the last graduate student of Enrico Fermi.

From 1955 to 1973, he worked in the physics group at University of California, Berkeley, where he did some of the key development of bubble chamber physics, particularly the hardware and software for photographing, measuring and analyzing data.

In 1975, he founded the group that became the Center for Building Science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. At the center he researched the miniaturisation of electronic ballasts in fluorescent lamps leading to the development of compact fluorescent lamps.

The Center developed a broad range of energy efficiency technologies, including electronic ballasts for fluorescent lighting, a key component of compact fluorescent lamps; and low-emissivity windows, a coating for glass that allows light in but blocks heat from either entering (summer) or escaping (winter). Dr. Rosenfeld was personally responsible for developing DOE-2, a computer program for building energy analysis and design that was incorporated in California’s Building Code in 1978. These codes have served as models for the nation, copied by Florida and Massachusetts, and other states are beginning to adopt them as well. DOE-2 is used to calculate codes and guidelines for energy efficient new buildings in China and many other countries.

From 1994 to 1999 he was a Senior Advisor at the United States United States Department of Energy.

In 2001, Rosenfeld developed Rosenfeld's Law, which states that the amount of energy required to produce one dollar of GDP has decreased by about one percent per year since 1845.

A conference in 2006 at University of California, Berkeley was dedicated to the so-called Rosenfeld Effect, which recognized California's low per-capita growth in electricity since 1973.[2]

In 2008, Rosenfeld announced his desire to see all new California homes be equipped with a radio controlled thermostat that would allow the State to transmit price and reliability signals to the house, allowing customers to change their energy usage with changes in price.[3]

Chris Calwell of Ecos Consulting and Jonathan Koomey, Consulting Professor at Stanford University, announced the Rosenfeld unit at a conference to honor Dr. Rosenfeld at University of California, Davis on March 9, 2010 and presented him with a plaque commemorating the occasion.

On March 9, 2010, the open-access refereed journal Environmental Research Letters (ERL) published an article in which more than 50 leaders in the field of energy efficiency proposed a new unit to characterize electricity savings – the Rosenfeld (symbol: Rs).[4] One Rosenfeld is equal to 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year, which represents the electrical output of one 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant under a set of standard assumptions. In reference to such a standard coal plant, one rosenfeld of saved electricity also avoids emissions of 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. From the abstract:

The growing investment by governments and electric utilities in energy efficiency programs highlights the need for simple tools to help assess and explain the size of the potential resource. One technique that is commonly used in this effort is to characterize electricity savings in terms of avoided power plants, because it is easier for people to visualize a power plant than it is to understand an abstraction such as billions of kilowatt-hours. Unfortunately, there is no standardization around the characteristics of such power plants.
In this letter we define parameters for a standard avoided power plant that have physical meaning and intuitive plausibility, for use in back-of-the-envelope calculations. For the prototypical plant this article settles on a 500 MW existing coal plant operating at a 70% capacity factor with 7% T&D losses. Displacing such a plant for one year would save 3 billion kWh/year at the meter and reduce emissions by 3 million metric tons of CO2 per year. The proposed name for this metric is the Rosenfeld, in keeping with the tradition among scientists of naming units in honor of the person most responsible for the discovery and widespread adoption of the underlying scientific principle in question—Dr Arthur H Rosenfeld.

In the Spring of 2011, Rosenfeld was awarded the distinguished Global Energy Prize by Russia. This award is in recognition of his forward thinking and innovations in the area of energy efficiency.

Rosenfeld is semi-retired but still actively promoting energy efficiency. He is currently Distinguished Scientist Emeritus at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Professor Emeritus of Physics at University of California, Berkeley. He also serves on the Board of the non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.


  • Honorary Degree, University of Durham, 1983
  • Szilard Award for Physics in the Public Interest, 1986
  • Carnot Award for Energy Efficiency, U.S. Department of Energy, 1993
  • Berkeley Citation, University of California, 2001
  • Enrico Fermi Award, 2006
  • Economist Innovator of the Year Award, 2008
  • National Association of Engineering (NAE) Membership, 2010
  • Global Energy Prize (Russia), 2011


  1. ^ You can thank Arthur Rosenfeld for energy savings - LA Times
  2. ^
  3. ^ California wants to control home thermostats - International Herald Tribune
  4. ^ Koomey, Jonathan, Hashem Akbari, Carl Blumstein, Marilyn Brown, Richard Brown, Chris Calwell, Sheryl Carter, Ralph Cavanagh, Audrey Chang, David Claridge, Paul Craig, Rick Diamond, Joseph H. Eto, William Fulkerson, Ashok Gadgil, Howard Geller, José Goldemberg, Chuck Goldman, David B. Goldstein, Steve Greenberg, David Hafemeister, Jeff Harris, Hal Harvey, Eric Heitz, Eric Hirst, Holmes Hummel, Dan Kammen, Henry Kelly, Skip Laitner, Mark Levine, Amory Lovins, Gil Masters, James E. McMahon, Alan Meier, Michael Messenger, John Millhone, Evan Mills, Steve Nadel, Bruce Nordman, Lynn Price, Joe Romm, Marc Ross, Michael Rufo, Jayant Sathaye, Lee Schipper, Stephen H. Schneider, James L. Sweeney, Malcolm Verdict, Diana Vorsatz, Devra Wang, Carl Weinberg, Richard Wilk, John Wilson, and Ernst Worrell. 2010. "Defining a standard metric for electricity savings." Environmental Research Letters. vol. 5 014017, no. 1 January–March.

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