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Vail Symposium: Changing the way we use energy

Evan Fairmont
Vail Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail Daily
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VAIL, Colorado –Can for-profit business lead the effort to transition from fossil fuels to sustainable and efficient energy sources, such as wind, solar and advanced biofuels? According to Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) it is. And Lovins and RMI are on a mission to show everyone how with their latest initiative, called Reinventing Fire. Join the Vail Symposium on Wednesday to hear Lovins, the cofounder, chairman and chief scientist of RMI, discuss the ideas and innovations driving his project. The event will take place at Red Sky Clubhouse in Wolcott at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $30, or $25 for Vail Symposium members.

The goal of Reinventing Fire is “to drive the business-led transition from oil, coal and ultimately gas to efficiency and renewables. Reinventing Fire aims to change minds and clarify choices by showing what exists, what works, what makes sense and makes money.”

For 35 years Lovins has worked to improve energy use throughout the world. He has worked in more than 50 countries and at age 62, shows no signs of stopping. Using a sustainability retrofit he recently consulted on an eight-month modeling and analysis project for the Empire State Building, which will save 38 percent of the building’s energy.



Energy and resource efficiency projects are only one aspect of Reinventing Fire. This four-tier strategy aims to address the shift away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and renewables in transportation, industrial design, buildings and electricity. Transportation – or moving people, freight and the platforms that carry them –uses most of the world’s oil. Few power and industrial plants, commercial and residential buildings, vehicles and transportation systems are as energy efficient as they could be. Despite new codes and technology, the U.S. commercial building stock is no more energy efficient today than it was 25 years ago, according to the RMI website, http://www.rmi.org. Electricity generation accounts for most of the world’s fossil fuel use, chiefly coal.

In each of these four sectors the goal is to have for-profit business lead the way, meaning that going green can actually be quite profitable. Playing off of competition business sectors will be driven to become more efficient. In Lovins’ estimation, while some capital investment is required upfront, the returns are far greater. This should provide further incentive for competitors to follow suit.



Initiatives like Reinventing Fire clearly have long term implications not only for business and industry, but also for people. Houses and appliances can become more efficient and companies are providing incentives for energy-efficient appliances and solar power.

The Vail Symposium is a grassroots, non-profit organization that strives to provide educational programs for the Vail community that are thought-provoking, diverse and affordable. For more information visit http://www.vailsymposium.org or call 970-476-0954.

Evan Fairmont is the program coordinator of Vail Symposium.


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