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Eric Wanless



Eric is a Principal with RMI’s industry and electricity practices, where he is a key contributor to the Reinventing Fire: China program as RMI's industrial sector lead and champions a nascent effort to eliminate energy waste in consumer products by harnessing business’ drive for profit. He is also actively involved in energy strategy development and implementation, and design innovation for electric utilities, heavy industry, and corporations. Eric has been involved with RMI in various capacities since 2005.


Before joining RMI, Eric worked with the Research and Policy group at Ecova (formerly Ecos Consulting) where he led an effort to identify, quantify, and pursue significant cost-effective energy savings in computers and other IT equipment. This effort leveraged deep engineering teardowns and analysis, energy policy expertise, and ultimately led to the development of more aggressive voluntary and mandatory efficiency standards on state, federal, and international levels. Eric has also worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council implementing collaborative energy efficiency policy in California and as a senior field instructor teaching leadership and communication with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

RMI Projects

  • Reinventing Fire: China—Eric is RMI’s industrial sector lead for Reinventing Fire: China, an ongoing, long-term collaboration with the Energy Research Institute, Laurence Berkeley National Lab, and Energy Foundation with the goal of reshaping Chinese energy consumption to provide a cleaner and more prosperous future.
  • Fort Collins Utilities—Eric worked closely with Fort Collins Utilities to develop a new utility business model that enabled the significant investment in energy efficiency and distributed renewables needed to meet citywide greenhouse gas goals while maintaining utility financial viability.
  • Electric utility planning and analysis—Eric has worked with a diverse set of electric utilities, including Duke Energy and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. He has also evaluated the feasibility and impact of very high penetrations of renewable energy and energy efficiency for global heavy industry sites.   
  • Smart grid and real-time demand response—Eric led an internal RMI effort to evaluate the value of real-time demand response as a tool to enable large penetrations of variable renewable energy resources.
  • Industrial energy—Eric’s experience in working with industrial clients includes the radical redesign of a large refinery to demonstrate concrete deep energy and cost savings, developing an achievable low-carbon vision for one of the largest mining companies in the world, creating a renewable energy and efficiency strategy for a large consumer products manufacturer, and evaluating carbon offset opportunities for a global IT company.  


  • Master of Science in Energy Engineering, Stanford University
  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering, Stanford University


  • MAP Sustainable Energy Fellow, 2005, 2006
  • LEED Accredited Professional

Select Publications

  • Wanless, Eric et al., Cost Effective Computer Efficiency, Pacific Gas and Electric, December, 2012.
  • Lighthiser, Erica, Eric Wanless and Laura Moorefield, Pulling the Plug on Miscellaneous Electric Loads, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, March, 2012.
  • Wanless, Eric, Laura Moorefield, Luke Mason, Kevin Simonson, and Chris Calwell, The 2x Bulb: A New Opportunity for Generating Incremental Energy Savings from New Incandescents that Use Half the Energy and Last Twice as Long, Natural Resources Defense Council, November, 2011.
  • Denkenberger, David, Serena Mau, Chris Calwell, and Eric Wanless; Residential Clothes Dryers: A Closer Look at Energy Efficiency Test Procedures and Savings Opportunities, Natural Resources Defense Council, November, 2011.
  • Lovins, Amory, et al. Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, Rocky Mountain Institute, 2011 (consulting contributor).
  • Wanless, Eric, et al., A Golden Opportunity: California’s Solutions for Global Warming, Natural Resources Defense Council, June, 2007.
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