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Letter From the CEO: Reinventing RMI

By Jules Kortenhorst


For more than 30 years, RMI has championed the shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables, both in the United States and abroad. We have made progress in influencing thought leaders and key players, generating breakthrough insights, and piloting and scaling solutions. But more of that important work remains to do. The pace at which we transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure future needs to be significantly faster than it has been. Equally important, this is a global challenge, so we need to make our impact on a global scale, beyond the borders of the United States where RMI was born.

We recently went through a strategy exercise to refocus RMI on driving even greater impact. That impact comes with great benefits. It unlocks trillions of dollars of economic value. It bolsters the security and resilience of our energy systems. And it creates a greener, cleaner world for you and me and our children to live in. But these linked goals, from our economy to our security to the environment, are now increasingly threatened by climate change. We must take action, and we must do it now.

RMI has a concrete vision for what a clean, prosperous, and secure future looks like. We call that vision Reinventing Fire—a fundamental transformation in global energy use from fossil fuels to advanced efficiency and renewables. If we can succeed in this transformation—and we must—we can tackle climate change and achieve the economic, security, and environmental benefits we all hold dear in our hearts and minds.

Turning Reinventing Fire from vision into reality—by 2050, if not sooner—is a big goal. That’s why our recent strategy process defined ambitious and impactful 2025 program goals to drive change, as well as near-term milestones that each guide our next steps.

Those goals and milestones are measurable, because more than ever before, RMI is ready to be accountable, to ourselves and to you. Making societal change happen, especially in an area as challenging as global energy use, is hard and complex work with lots of uncertainty. But we at RMI stand behind our commitment to deliver impact. Thus we are increasing investments in our programs in buildings, electricity, and communities in the U.S. And we are also putting a very significant effort into working with China. Meanwhile—building on RMI’s historic strengths—we are exploring new opportunities in transportation, industry, and more.

This issue of Solutions Journal highlights some of the ways we are aiming to achieve that greater impact. You will read: How we’re bringing our Reinventing Fire vision not only to places like Fort Collins (Colorado), Arizona State University, and Minnesota, but also to all of China. How we are accelerating the adoption of clean solar energy by streamlining the permitting process in communities and showing how utilities, customers, and energy developers can leverage solar power and battery storage systems to create an optimized, reliable, clean, decentralized grid. How automakers like BMW are embracing ultralight materials and electrification, and how RMI is working with the auto industry to take such shifts mainstream. And how we are driving greater investment in commercial buildings’ energy efficiency by helping investors count the full value of deep retrofits.

Such exciting and important work is only just the beginning. To deliver our promised impact, we need to increase the scope, scale, and speed at which we work. RMI must widen our global reach, accelerate the pace of our programs, and forge more and stronger partnerships. And we need to make RMI bigger…to grow our talented, dedicated staff; to expand our influence; to make a greater impact much sooner. For that we will also continue to need your help and support.

We cannot afford to wait; we need to do this now. When I think of the legacy we are leaving for my four kids and their entire generation, I realize the urgency of the challenge we have before us. At the same time I am excited that RMI is ready and able to step up to that challenge, scale up our programs, and help bring forth a clean, prosperous, and secure energy future.


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