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Taking a Stand



Transforming global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure energy future is an ambitious, vital undertaking—and our sole focus. It demands all our determination and expertise. To succeed, we must rapidly scale our impact—to “reinvent fire”—making the shift from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and renewables by 2050, if not sooner. We must move decisively. That’s why we’ve established bold goals to achieve by 2025, with near-term milestones and actions to chart our progress and hold ourselves accountable. We welcome you on the journey with us. This is, in part, how we’ll do it … over the next 1–2 years and beyond.


The Impact
By 2025, we’ll cut U.S. electricity use by 18 percent and nearly double renewables’ share of generation from 16 to 30 percent compared to business as usual.

How We’ll Do It
We will accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables by fostering rapid evolution of the electricity system pushed by disruptive innovation. With regulators, utilities, and others we’ll align incentives and create a fair electricity market to support a distributed energy future. Meanwhile, we’ll implement strategies and business models for customer-sited technologies such as rooftop solar, so they cost less than incumbent central power supply.

What’s Next

  • Develop rate structures that reflect the benefits and costs of distributed energy resources and demonstrate them with at least one utility or regulatory commission
  • Launch six Electricity Innovation Lab (e-Lab) projects, including collaborations with specific utilities and communities, to highlight the feasibility of high percentages of community-based renewables
  • Create a solar development excellence center to lower the soft costs that now make up ~60 percent of solar PV installation costs
  • Make low-cost solar financing a reality for far more customers by standardizing commercial PV credit screens, incorporating PV into real estate finance, and opening up finance to underserved markets
  • Speed innovation and pioneer new approaches to optimized solar PV and other distributed energy applications, with at least 10,000 on- and off-grid installations each via collaborators


The Impact
By 2025, we’ll make one billion square feet of commercial building space 35 percent more efficient, influence the deep energy retrofit (>50 percent efficiency improvement) of billions more, and grow the buildings efficiency market from less than $10 billion per year to more than $25 billion.

How We’ll Do It
We’ll target four of the largest, most influential segments of the buildings market—major corporations, the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense, and activist cities—for deep and portfolio-wide retrofits. And we’ll stimulate private capital investment in deep energy retrofits by getting owners and investors to consider more than energy cost savings alone and integrate the full set of deep retrofit values (DRV) into their decision making.

What’s Next

  • Building on our success taking the United States’ biggest real estate manager, the General Services Administration, from 18 to 39 percent average retrofit energy efficiency improvement, bring the GSA further toward 50 percent efficiency gains on future retrofits
  • Drive change in the owner-occupant sector, which accounts for 50 percent of all commercial buildings, including by training at least 10 top corporations how to incorporate DRV into real estate investment decision making and making DRV a required component of two real estate finance certification programs
  • Get 20 or more leading real estate companies and 10 or more leading practitioners to adopt portfolio-wide energy strategies and perform deep energy retrofits on individual buildings
  • Team with a major city (potentially Chicago) to drive breadth and depth of retrofits on major buildings, which represent half of total urban building energy use


The Impact
By 2025, we will directly support communities representing 10 million people to plan and execute towards a clean, prosperous, and secure energy future; enable communities representing 40 million more people to do the same with RMI-developed tools and approaches; and see 700 university campuses substantially reduce their carbon footprint.

How We’ll Do It
We’ll improve neighborhoods, accelerate economic development, reduce traffic, improve building stock, and create a more resilient energy supply in communities by applying Reinventing Fire’s cross-sector approach. And we will get over 100 large universities to reduce their carbon emissions by 50 percent, inspire 600 others to 25 percent reductions, and get 10 million students, faculty, and staff to cut their carbon footprint by at least 10 percent.

What’s Next

  • Obtain 60-percent-or-better carbon emission reduction commitments from four communities representing a total of at least one million people, and take active steps along an implementation pathway
  • Develop a widely available package of tools and processes to make our approach to community energy system transformation replicable
  • and scalable
  • Partner with at least six university “leaders” to provide guidance, tools, processes, and know-how to get 100 other universities to commit to reduce their carbon emissions 50 percent
  • Get Arizona State University, the nation’s largest university, to adopt and act upon an action plan to achieve its climate neutrality target


The Impact
By 2025, we’ll ensure that a Reinventing Fire-like vision is adopted in countries totaling at least half the global population, with a goal of a 70 percent carbon emissions reduction over 2050 business as usual, starting with China, the world’s largest carbon emitter.

How We’ll Do It
We have already embarked on work with the Chinese central government and influential partners—Energy Research Institute, China Energy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Energy Foundation’s China Sustainable Energy Group—to deliver a compelling alternative development path for the country.

What’s Next

  • Publish a technical report with the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission characterizing the maximum potential for energy efficiency and renewables to meet economic, environmental, and energy security needs
  • Make policy recommendations that identify the key adjustments that enable China to capture the full potential of energy efficiency and renewable energy and which inform China’s 13th Five-Year Plan
  • Begin implementation of the Reinventing Fire plan alongside Chinese partners, pursuing key opportunities in the transportation, buildings, and industrial sectors
  • Catalyze an automotive leapfrog, in which China’s rapidly growing auto sector foregoes oil and incremental fuel economy improvements in favor of radical progress to electric vehicles


Our targeted impacts in electricity, buildings, communities, and China form the core of RMI’s commitments, but we don’t stop there. To truly reinvent fire, we also must address transportation, industry, and product efficiency. That’s where seeds come in—a set of early-stage projects with high potential for impact. They are exploratory in nature, akin to venture capital investing. We expect some to fail, but we also anticipate some will be incredibly successful.

Transforming Transportation: Vehicle Design and Use
To get the world off fossil fuels we must tackle oil, and for that, we need to transform transportation. To win the oil endgame, we plan to focus on the global auto industry and bring electrified and lightweight automobiles to a large production scale in both the U.S. and China (see Autocomposites Commercialization Launchpad, page 27). By 2025, we want to see one million cars with substantial carbon fiber parts in the U.S., and at least five million light, electrified mass-market city cars
in China.

Making Islands Sustainable
In conjunction with the Carbon War Room, we plan to work with ten island nations to help them build resilient and sustainable energy systems, including taking one Caribbean island to 100 percent renewable energy within a decade. These islands will serve as templates of success impelling other islands to commit to transformation and engaging larger countries to act.
Getting Large Companies to Procure

Renewable Energy
The commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors are responsible for about half of all primary energy use. We plan to get large C&I companies—including at least five Fortune 500 companies—to procure renewable energy by creating a renewables attainment resource center and scalable renewable supply solutions.

Increasing Product Efficiency
The products that plug into our walls consume more than 40 percent of the electricity consumed in U.S. buildings. We plan to cut the consumption of those energy-consuming products by one-third in U.S. homes and offices, demonstrating the value proposition to retailers and providing consumers with desirable efficient products.

Factor Ten Engineering
Our Factor Ten Engineering (10xE) initiative will help engineers, architects, and their clients apply RMI’s whole-system design principles to achieve radical energy and resource efficiency in manufacturing processes, buildings, and vehicles, often at lower cost. We also intend to build this game changer into design pedagogy.


These ambitious goals are designed to tackle the world’s toughest energy challenges. From the U.S. to China to the rest of the world, we’ll drastically cut carbon emissions to tackle climate change, unlock enormous economic opportunity, and make our energy systems clean, prosperous, and secure. This is our promise to ourselves, to you, and to the world. And as RMI’s CEO Jules Kortenhorst explains in his introductory letter to this issue, “We at RMI stand behind our commitment to deliver impact.”

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock except for Photo Four from the top "Fort Collins Street Scene" courtesy of Visit Fort Collins by Ryan Burke

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