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Insights: Recent White Papers and Reports


by RMI

The declining costs and improving performance of distributed energy technologies—such as rooftop solar PV, energy efficiency, demand response, electric vehicles, and much more—are rapidly expanding the range of options for onsite generation and management of electricity, driving accelerated deployment of these technologies by customers and third-party service providers. This is leading to a fundamental shift: the electricity industry is evolving toward a constellation of interconnected business models at the “distribution edge,” where retail customers interface with the electricity distribution grid. Existing electric utility business models, however, are poorly adapted to this evolving landscape. They’re ill-equipped to tap the potential value of distributed resources to meet societal demands for cleaner, more resilient, and more reliable electricity supply. This paper describes how and why the forces changing the electricity system challenge existing models, and offers guiding principles and a proposed “solution set” for new business models. Download the paper.


by RMI & Johnson Controls

Net-zero energy buildings fully offset their energy consumption and carbon emissions with renewable energy, preferably generated onsite. True to their name, they generate at least as much clean energy as they consume. Once considered an outlandish, far-reaching, expensive goal only available to the technically advanced, net-zero buildings are now well within the realm of possibility; they’re required for all new California houses and U.S. Army installations by 2020. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that there is the technical potential for over 47 percent of existing commercial building floorspace to achieve net-zero energy using currently known technologies and design processes. This paper, authored jointly with Johnson Controls’ Institute for Building Efficiency, highlights the net-zero retrofit process. Download the paper.


by RMI & American Institute of Architects

Architects know the profession has struggled of late. The recession has devastated architectural practices across the country; in the past three years, the employment rate among architects has declined by 28 percent. Recent graduates with degrees in architecture report the highest unemployment rate in the country at 13.9 percent. Yet crisis reveals opportunity, and architects are now leading in uncovering new sources of revenue via deep retrofits while addressing the industry’s unemployment, building real estate value, lowering energy costs, and reducing environmental degradation. Energy efficiency retrofits have emerged as a robust source of economic and environmental opportunity. This paper, authored jointly with the American Institute of Architects, highlights the valuable leading role architects can play to take advantage of an emerging market opportunity with huge public and private benefits. Download the paper.

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