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FAQ

Over the past 25-plus years, Rocky Mountain Institute has been asked thousands of questions on hundreds of topics. So that we can more efficiently and conveniently respond, we have compiled answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions, including those on green building, energy efficiency, advanced transportation, and more. Our FAQ page will provide answers to the most commonly asked questions and offer a number of useful resources*.

Green Buildings and Sustainable Design
• Can RMI help me design a new home?
• How can I obtain the consulting services of RMI’s Built Environment Team for a building project?
• How can I make my home more efficient?
• Can RMI help me install a renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) system for my home?
 
Energy and Energy Security
• Why can’t the United States use only renewable sources of energy to power the country?
• How can hydrogen help us end our dependence on fossil fuels?
• Is nuclear power the best way to lower our carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions?
 
Transportation
• Can I buy a Hypercar®?
• What are the best ways to make cars and trucks more fuel-efficient?
 
General RMI Questions
• Where can I learn about the super-efficient home of Amory Lovins?
• Can Amory Lovins speak at our event?
• How can I work for RMI?

Work We're Following

Green Buildings and Sustainable Design

Can RMI help me design a new home or retrofit my home?

Rocky Mountain Institute does not typically consult on the design or construction of residences. Most built environment projects RMI works on are larger buildings such as libraries, museums, laboratories, offices, and schools, as well as entire communities. Learn more

Energy-efficient and sustainable homes remain very important to the success of our communities and RMI supports a number of green builders, architects, and contractors. Please see the list below for websites where you can find information on green builders in your area and green building products such as super-windows, insulation, and efficient lighting.

Click here for more building resources.

How can I obtain RMI's consulting services for a building project?

The most efficient way to contact RMI regarding a potential building project is to complete a Service Inquiry Form. Please fill out this initial contact sheet with as much detail as possible, and our sustainable design specialists will contact you with next steps.

How can I make my home more efficient?

There are a number of ways to make your home more efficient in terms of energy consumption, water usage and waste production. RMI has been asked this question so often that a nuumber of years ago we published a set of nine Home Energy Briefs, all of which describe different ways the average homeowner can save energy and resources around the house. Please note, we are currently working to update these briefs; the most recent update occured in 2004 and 2006. 

Below are additional links to a few sites that can help guide you:

Can RMI help me install a renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) system for my home?

Rocky Mountain Institute does not install renewable energy systems or consult on smaller building projects. However, with many incentives enabling a homeowner to sell back excess power to the grid, qualify for a rebate, or receive a tax credit now available, small-scale renewable power is a great way to reduce your environmental impact.

If you are interested in installing a renewable power system there are a wealth of resources worth exploring. A good place to start is the Database for State Incentives on Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), which outlines all of the different programs and policies for each state as well as federal incentives.

Other renewable energy directories:

Energy and Energy Security

Why can’t the United States use only renewable sources of energy to power the country?

While renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power offer great potential to meet the nation’s energy needs, RMI endorses the efficient use of energy as the most important, economical, underused, overlooked, and misunderstood way to meet our energy demands.

Efficiency is rapidly becoming more feasible and economical as technologies, delivery methods, and integrative design improve. However with efforts to end our dependence on fossil fuels there is no “silver bullet” and RMI believes that a diversified energy portfolio—including but not limited to renewable energy—is important to meeting our future energy demands.

For more detailed information please see:

Is nuclear power the best way to lower our carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions?

No. RMI's position on nuclear power is that:

  • It's too expensive. Nuclear power has proved much more costly than projected—and more to the point, more costly than most other ways of generating or saving electricity. If utilities and governments are serious about markets, rather than propping up pet technologies at the expense of ratepayers, they should pursue the best buys first.
  • Nuclear power plants are not only expensive, they're also financially extremely risky because of their long lead times, cost overruns, and open-ended liabilities.
  • Contrary to an argument nuclear apologists have recently taken to making, nuclear power isn't a good way to curb climate change. True, nukes don't produce carbon dioxide—but the power they produce is so expensive that the same money invested in efficiency or even natural-gas-fired power plants would offset much more climate change.
  • And of course nuclear power poses significant problems of radioactive waste disposal and the proliferation of potential nuclear weapons material. (However, RMI tends to stress the economic arguments foremost because they carry more weight with decision-makers.)

Visit the RMI Library to discover more about our stance on nuclear power. Or read about the strategies to end our dependence on fossil fuels that we endorse in "Winning the Oil Endgame" and "Clean Renewables and Efficiency, Not Coal, Are the Key."

Transportation

Can I buy a Hypercar?

Unfortunately, there is no Hypercar readily available for public purchase. The Hypercar concept was developed by RMI in the 1990s and the idea was then presented to several major automobile manufacturers to maximize competitive advantage surrounding the concept. In 1999 the Hypercar project spun off into a for-profit venture, Hypercar, Inc., which was later renamed Fiberforge, which has developed some key Hypercar concepts, such as vehicle lightweighting using carbon fiber and composite materials.

For further information about the Hypercar chronology and details of the design, please visit the RMI Library to search for and download reports, white papers and articles

What are the best ways to make cars and trucks more fuel-efficient?

Making cars and trucks more efficient is a matter of minimizing energy losses. Computer modeling and research of technical developments by RMI suggest that the best way to do this is through a combination of lightweighting, aerodynamics, hybrid-electric technology and efficient accessories.

General RMI Questions

Where can I learn about the super-efficient home of Amory Lovins in Snowmass, Colorado?

Take an online virtual tour here—download a comprehensive report, watch a video and take an interactive stroll through the house.

Can Amory Lovins speak at our event?

Getting Amory or another RMI expert for an engagement requires just two things: booking well in advance of your event and paying the speaker’s fee.

Unfortunately Amory is very limited in the number of pro-bono outreach engagements he can commit to—his time is simply too scarce and the number of requests too high. If you wish to check the availability of Amory or another RMI staff member, please fill out our Speaker Request Form.

Our RMI staff has a wide range of expertise. Please browse our Staff list to determine whether another RMI expert would be appropriate for your event. Amory and our staff are also available for scheduled videoconferences to address smaller audiences at substantially reduced fees.

How can I work for RMI?

RMI works with leading companies to rethink their products, processes, organization structures, and strategies. Many of our staff members are well-accomplished scientists with expertise in engineering, physics, architecture, and more. Please visit our Careers page to see what openings RMI currently has available. RMI also maintains a robust internship program for recent graduates and those with less experience than our full-time staff.

Work We're Following

RMI is following the work of several organizations actively seeking ways to drive the new energy economy. More

* This page contains links to Internet resource sites collected by RMI staff to facilitate research and relationships for those interested in energy efficiency, sustainable design and advanced transportation. This resource is not exhaustive and will remain a work in progress. Please note that Rocky Mountain Institute cannot be held liable for the contents of the referenced websites nor the inclusion and/or omission of links on this page.