RMI (energy organization)

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Rocky Mountain Institute logo.png
Chief Executive OfficerJules Kortenhorst
BudgetRevenue: $36,389,994
Expenses: $33,402,821
(FYE June 2017)[1]
Address22830 Two Rivers Road
Basalt, CO 81621
Coordinates39°18′30″N 106°58′56″W / 39.30833°N 106.98222°W / 39.30833; -106.98222Coordinates: 39°18′30″N 106°58′56″W / 39.30833°N 106.98222°W / 39.30833; -106.98222

RMI is an organization in the United States dedicated to research, publication, consulting, and lecturing in the general field of sustainability, with a special focus on profitable innovations for energy and resource efficiency. RMI was established in 1982[2] and has grown into a broad-based institution with 220+ staff and an annual budget of some $52 million. RMI's work is independent and non-adversarial, with a strong emphasis on market-based solutions. The institute, which includes the Carbon War Room (which was merged with RMI in December 2014), operates in a number of initiative areas: Electricity Platform, Renewables Solutions, Buildings, Reinventing Fire: China, Smart Island Economies, Mobility Transformation, Shipping Efficiency, Sunshine for Mines, Sustainable Aviation, and Trucking Efficiency.[3] The work of RMI has benefited more than 80 Fortune 500 companies in a diverse range of sectors.[4][non-primary source needed] RMI is headquartered in Basalt, Colorado, and also maintains offices in Boulder, Colorado, New York City, Washington D.C., and Beijing, China.


By 1978, experimental physicist Amory Lovins had published many books, consulted widely, and was active in energy affairs in some fifteen countries as synthesist and lobbyist. Lovins is a main theorist of the soft energy path.

Later in 1979, Lovins married L. Hunter Sheldon, a lawyer, forester, and social scientist. Hunter received her undergraduate degree in sociology and political studies from Pitzer College, and her J.D. from Loyola Marymount's School of Law. In 1982, Amory and Hunter founded Rocky Mountain Institute, based in Colorado. Together with a group of colleagues, the Lovinses fostered efficient resource use and policy development that they believed would promote global security. RMI ultimately grew into an organization with a staff of around fifty. By the mid 1980s, the Lovinses were being featured on major network TV programs, such as 60 Minutes.

At RMI's headquarters the south-facing building complex is so energy-efficient that, even with local -40 °F (-40 °C) winter temperatures, the building interiors can maintain a comfortable temperature solely from the sunlight admitted plus the body heat of the people who work there. The environment can actually nurture semi-tropical and tropical indoor plants.

The Lovinses described the "hard energy path" as involving inefficient liquid-fuel automotive transport, as well as giant centralized electricity-generating facilities, often burning fossil fuels such as coal or petroleum, or harnessing a fission reaction, greatly complicated by electricity wastage and loss. The "soft energy path" which they wholly preferred involves efficient use of energy, diversity of energy production methods (and matched in scale and quality to end uses), and special reliance on "soft technologies" (alternative technology) such as solar, wind, biofuels, and geothermal. According to the institute, large-scale electricity production facilities had an important place, but it was a place that they were already filling in the middle 1970s; in general, more would not be needed. In a 1989 speech, Amory Lovins introduced the related concept of Negawatt power, in which the creation of a market for trading increased efficiency could supply additional electrical energy to consumers without increasing generation capacity—such as building more power plants.

In recent years, RMI has convened a team of designers and engineers to develop a super-efficient prototype automobile, which they've dubbed the Hypercar.

In December 2014, RMI merged with Carbon War Room, an organization with similar goals but a different approach.[5] In June 2017, RMI merged with WattTime,[6][7] an organization providing real-time power plant data to consumer devices for automatic dispatchable power consumption.[8][9]

Electric vehicles[edit]

In January 2008, led by John E. Waters, Bright Automotive launched from RMI with the goal of building on the work of a consortium of organizations, including Alcoa, Google.org, Johnson Controls and the Turner Foundation.[10][11]

Bright Automotive sought with its Bright IDEA project to develop a brand new, 100 miles per US gallon (2.4 L/100 km; 120 mpg‑imp) plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) fleet vehicle.[12] It launched Bright eSolutions[13] to consult on engineering, design, powertrain, battery technology and plug-in hybrid conversion technology services. Bright Automotive secured a conversion contract with the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) to convert military non-combat vehicles into a parallel PHEV for evaluation, including V2G testing.[14]

Advanced Energy, in partnership with RMI, has announced a Request for Information (RFI) for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) specific to charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles (EV).[15]


Books published by RMI include:

  • Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profit, Jobs and Security (2005) ISBN 1-84407-194-4 (Available Online in PDF)
  • Small is Profitable: The Hidden Economic Benefits of Making Electrical Resources the Right Size (2003) ISBN 1-881071-07-3
  • Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (2000) ISBN 1-85383-763-6
  • Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (2011) ISBN 978-1-60358-371-8.


RMI co-founder Amory Lovins has received nine honorary doctorates, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood Award, World Technology, and Time Hero for the Planet awards, the Benjamin Franklin and Happold Medals, the Nissan, Shingo, Mitchell, and Onassis Prizes, and honorary membership of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rocky Mountain Institute" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  2. ^ "History". Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  3. ^ "PDF About RMI Brochure". www.rmi.org. Retrieved 2017-04-14.
  4. ^ Breakthrough Design Team p. 4.
  5. ^ Trigg, Tali. "Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room Join Forces". scientificamerican.com. Scientific American. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  6. ^ Clancy, Heather (23 October 2017). "High aspirations: What's next for Rocky Mountain Institute". GreenBiz. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  7. ^ Cohen, Deborah L. (30 April 2018). "Does Your Building Know 'WattTime' Is Best for Its Carbon Footprint?". Middle Market Growth. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (7 May 2019). "We'll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant in the world. That's huge". Vox.
  9. ^ "WattTime". Rocky Mountain Institute.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2008-12-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Protecting & Restoring the Natural World". Turner Foundation. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  12. ^ "A new automotive company for a new era in America" (PDF). Bright Automotive. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  13. ^ "Who We Are". Bright Automotive. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  14. ^ "Advances by Converter Firms". California Cars Initiative. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Advanced Energy and Rocky Mountain Institute Announce Request for Information on Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment". Pitchengine. 2010-04-29. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  16. ^ "Who we are". Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved 13 November 2018.

External links[edit]