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Letter from the CEO: Breakthroughs Behind the Scenes

By Michael Potts

Today’s shopping experience is an adventure in advanced design. Attractively packaged foods are presented to you under exquisitely tuned overhead lighting; fruits and vegetables shine in self-spraying displays; specialized coolers show off meats and milks and frozen foods, each at their own target temperature, and each item attractively visible without frost or steam.

And yet, in the near future, in Austin, Texas, a grocery shopper will squeeze a grapefruit to test its freshness with absolutely no idea that the sparkling store around her uses only half the energy of the competitor’s store down the road. This energy savings will happen because a courageous team at HEB Stores collaborated with RMI to create an entirely new type of store. This edition of RMI’s Solution Journal describes their breakthroughs.

This store will provide a full shopping experience with only half the energy consumption. Like many energy innovations, this one brings cost savings to HEB, but also helps all of us move a bit closer to a smarter, cleaner, safer energy era. And, like many energy efficiency measures, most people can’t tell the difference.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Many of the pivotal innovations of the new energy era will be behind the scenes.

This edition also tells the story of another instance of breakthrough innovations quietly coming together behind the scenes. The University of California, San Diego campus is one of the most beautiful student complexes in the world. Up against the Pacific Ocean, UCSD boasts a Spanish Renaissance campus that includes both traditional and modern structures, resort-like student housing, many water features, palm trees, and tropical vegetation.

Amid this beauty, a talented UCSD team has created a “proving ground” for microgrid concepts that lay the foundation for an entirely new type of electrical system—one that expertly incorporates renewable energy and simultaneously protects against blackouts. This is cleaner energy, delivered with improved efficiency and security. These efforts generate millions of dollars in savings for the university, but when you drive up to the campus, they aren’t obvious to the casual observer.

You’ll also learn how a group of our alumni at a Colorado organization called Clean Energy Economy for the Region work to help business in their community do well by doing good with RMI principles, and how our supporters at the ROMA Design Group are bringing the same fundamental principles to scale.

This online edition of RMI’s Solutions Journal allows us to bring these ideas alive with multimedia content, and introduce you to many of these innovators in person. We are pleased that you can meet some of our partners in this journey to the new energy era, and grateful to have you on this journey with us.

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