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Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s Leadership Council hosted physicist Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder, Chief Scientist and Chairman Emeritus of the Rocky Mountain Institute as the featured speaker for SEEDS of Change. More than 300 guests attended the annual event on September 16, 2014.
During Lovins’ presentation, REINVENTING FIRE: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, he shared ideas for the reducing our dependence on petroleum, including integrating four major sectors that use energy -- transportation, buildings, industry and electricity -- and integrating four kinds of innovation, technology and policy, as well as design and business strategy.
“Today's energy system is not just inefficient; it is also disconnected, aging, dirty and insecure,” said Lovins. “So it needs refurbishment. By 2050 though, it could become efficient, connected and distributed with elegantly frugal autos, factories and buildings all relying on a modern, secure and resilient electricity system.”
Lovins pointed to manufacturing lighter cars for vehicle efficiency with ultralight, ultra strong materials, like carbon fiber composites. And gave the audience the opportunity to handle a smooth helmet made of carbon fiber displaying so they could feel the weight and strength of the material that is tougher than titanium. According to Lovins, this shift could provide the automotive industry with a competitive strategy to double oil savings over the next 40 years.
The usage of smart IT to enhance transit and enable car sharing and ride sharing was also suggested by Lovins as a lucrative growth model that could result in better access and 46-84 percent less people on the road.
Lovins stated, “So to solve the energy problem, we just needed to enlarge it. And the results may at first seem incredible, but as Marshall McLuhan said, "Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public incredulity."
Lovins discussed a variety of ways for improving building and industry efficiency. Buildings use three-quarters of the electricity. Over the next 40 years, buildings with integrated design could create expanding returns, not diminishing returns that would triple or quadruple their energy productivity.
“Amory’s insights into energy resources and economics are thought-provoking in the extreme,” said Wes Jones, co-founder of Sage Capital and member of the Danforth Leadership Council. “The technologies he outlined in his presentation are potential game-changers in transportation, construction, oil and electricity, among other sectors, and could offer solutions to some of the most pressing problems of the 21st century.”
Lovins left the crowd to ponder this statement “So focusing on outcomes, not motives can turn gridlock and conflict into a unifying solution to America's energy challenge. This also turns out to be the best way to cope with global challenges -- climate change, nuclear proliferation, energy insecurity, and energy poverty -- all of which make us less safe.”
Many Thanks to our sponsor of SEEDS of Change, J.P. Morgan.
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