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Michael Bendewald



  • Buildings
  • China

Mike is a former manager on RMI’s buildings practice. He worked primarily on business and finance solutions for implementing efficiency and solar in commercial real estate and district development. His work included writing “how-to” guides on retrofit analysis (Department of Energy Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides) and making the business case (RMI Deep Retrofit Value Guides), as well as introducing innovative finance mechanisms to international audiences (PACE financing for the China Ministry of Finance). He has managed project teams of 2–4 RMI engineers and analysts to deliver insights and build the business case for major companies and government entities to invest in multi-million dollar efficiency programs. Mike also drove the development of an RMI buildings initiative in China to implement near-zero carbon emissions districts.


Prior to RMI, Mike researched and published on the effectiveness of green building rating systems as well as on science, technology, and society (STS).


M.Sc., Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder
BA, Philosophy, Saint John’s University


Boulder, CO




“My colleagues take information about the world and create stories for impact in ways that continue to amaze me.”

Authored Blog Posts

Three Low-Carbon Lessons from China for U.S. Cities and Companies

Each year in China, 10 billion square feet of towering urban residential and commercial building space are added to an existing stock that’s already well over 200 billion square feet. Decarbonizing this massive amount of building space is an important undertaking for China, which stands by its 2016 ratification of…

A Necessary Low-Carbon Development Strategy for Chinese Buildings

China has the opportunity to improve the thermal comfort of building occupants without increasing energy use by designing new buildings (and retrofitting old ones) to have many of the passive features that RMI’s Innovation Center demonstrates. These features require very low levels of energy to fuel them, and deliver thermal comfort that is better than what most Chinese buildings are delivering now.

Creating Better Buildings

Achieving deeper levels of energy savings will require a scaling up of investment in energy efficiency. RMI’s new practice guide on how to calculate and present value from deep energy retrofits can help drive that investment.

RMI Releases Deep Retrofit Value Practice Guide

Highly energy-efficient buildings offer more than just a low utility bill. They also often promise gains in employee productivity, better retention, improved occupant health, lower maintenance costs, increased occupancy, and higher lease-up and sales rates, among others.

Reinventing Buildings

From the neighborhood corner pharmacy to the skyscraper taking up an entire city block, office and retail buildings use a lot of energy. The big question is how to transform the energy use in these buildings to efficiency and renewables.

Rocky Mountain Institute developed our RetroFit Initiative portfolio partner program to accelerate the development and adoption of beyond-best-practice portfolio energy management. Thus far, we have worked directly with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, AT&T, and Kaiser Permanente. We have also built a network of energy managers and practitioners…

Sustainability Fatigue, Disruptive Innovation, and the Flourishing Enterprise: RMI Chats with Corporate Sustainability Expert Chris Laszlo (Part 1)

In part 1 yesterday, we chatted with corporate sustainability expert Chris Laszlo about Embedded Sustainability, Reinventing Fire, and sustainability fatigue. That conversation continues today with a discussion of the role of incumbents, disruptive innovation, and the flourishing enterprise. PB: You’ve mentioned disruptive innovation, which brings to mind startups…

Discovering “Green Gold” in Indianapolis

Indianapolis, like cities across the nation, faces the challenge of reducing resource use and saving taxpayer dollars. The retrofit of the Indianapolis City-County Building provided the spark for the mayor and city staff to begin the process of comprehensively addressing energy use across the entire Indianapolis municipal building portfolio.

Chicago can seize opportunity for deep energy retrofits

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced a program to make the city’s buildings more energy-efficient. Now that he’s taken a bold step to save taxpayer dollars and create hundreds of jobs by shaving the energy consumption of City Hall, the Harold Washington Library and other government buildings, what’s next?