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December 3, 2008

Future of Energy: Amory B. Lovins

Amory Lovins

December 3, 2008"Profitable Solutions to Climate, Oil, and Proliferation"
Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder, Chairman and Chief Scientist, the Rocky Mountain Institute

Amory B. Lovins (1947– ), an American consultant experimental physicist and 1993 MacArthur Fellow, has been active at the nexus of energy, resources, economy, environment, development, and security in more than 50 countries for over 40 years, including 14 years based in England. He is widely considered among the world’s leading authorities on energy—especially its efficient use and sustainable supply—and a fertile innovator in integrative design and in superefficient buildings, factories, and vehicles.

After two years at Harvard, Mr. Lovins transferred to Oxford, and two years later became a don at 21, receiving in consequence an Oxford ma by Special Resolution (1971) and, later, 12 honorary doctorates of various U.S. and U.K. universities. He has been Regents’ Lecturer at the U. of California both in Energy and Resources and in Economics; Grauer Lecturer at the University of British Columbia; Luce Visiting Professor at Dartmouth; Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Oklahoma; Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado; Oikos Visiting Professor of Business, University of St. Gallen; an engineering visiting professor at Peking U.; 2007 MAP/Ming Professor at Stanford’s School of Engineering; and 2011– Professor of Practice at the Naval Postgraduate School.

During 1979–2002, Mr. Lovins worked as a team with L. Hunter Lovins (his wife 1979–99). They shared a 1982 Mitchell Prize, a 1983 Right Livelihood Award (often called the “alternative Nobel Prize”), the 1999 Lindbergh Award, and Time’s 2000 Heroes for the Planet Award. In 1989 he won the Onassis Foundation’s first Delphi Prize for their “essential contribution towards finding alternative solutions to energy problems.” That contribution included the “end-use / least-cost” redefinition of the energy problem (in Foreign Affairs in 1976)—asking what quantity, quality, scale, and source of energy will do each task in the cheapest way. This economically based approach first permitted successful foresight in the competitive energy-service marketplace. In 1993 he received the Nissan Prize for inventing superefficient ultralight-hybrid cars (www.hypercar.com), and in 1999, partly for that work, the World Technology Award (Environment). He also received the Heinz Award, the Happold Medal of the [UK] Construction Industry Council, the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the [UK] Royal Society of Arts (Life Fellow), and in 2007, the Blue Planet Prize, Volvo Prize, honorary membership of the American Institute of Architects, Foreign Membership of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, Time International’s Hero of the Environment award, Popular Mechanics’ Breakthrough Leadership award, and honorary Senior Fellowship of the Design Futures Council. In 2008 he was named one of America’s 24 Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report and Harvard’s Kennedy School, and received the first Aspen Institute / National Geographic Energy and Environment Award for Individual Thought Leadership. In 2009, he received the National Design Award and an Ashoka Fellowship, while Time named him among the world’s 100 most influential people, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers. In 2011, he was co-Runner-Up for the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

In 1982, the Lovinses cofounded Rocky Mountain Institute (www.rmi.org), an independent, entrepreneurial, nonprofit think-and-do tank. RMI’s ~80 staff drive the efficient and restorative use of resources to help make the world thriving, verdant, and secure, for all, for ever. Ms. Lovins left RMI in 2002; Mr. Lovins is now its Chief Scientist and Chairman Emeritus. The Institute’s ~$12-million annual revenue comes both from programmatic enterprise, chiefly private-sector consultancy, and from grants and donations. RMI’s balance sheet comes largely from Mr. Lovins’s having cofounded, led, spun off, and in 1999 sold (to the Financial Times group) E source, the premier source of information on advanced electric efficiency (www.esource.com).

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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