New Fast Company: Vampire Loads, White Roofs, and the Quest for Efficiency
Latest Fast Company is now up: Vampire Loads, White Roofs, and the Quest for Efficiency gives a shout-out to the newly-retired head of the California Energy Commission, Art Rosenfeld, and the benefits his policies have provided to California and, as other states adopt them and manufacturers adhere to them, the rest of the US.
Rosenfeld was, until his retirement, the head of the California Energy Commission, a state organization that shapes the rules surrounding electricity production and use in California. During Rosenfeld's 30-year tenure at the CEC, he made energy efficiency the overriding driver of regulatory policy, creating rules for everything from refrigerators (which now use only a quarter of the power that their less-fancy 1970s ancestors did) to "vampire loads" (the power still consumed by devices when turned off) to--most recently--the power consumed by flat screen televisions, which by some reports now account for nearly 10% of the power consumption in California.
And in doing so, is directly responsible for this remarkable fact: despite an explosion of consumer electronics, mobile gadgets, and personal computers of all types, energy use per-capita in California is the same as it was 30 years ago.
There are a couple of ways to look at this data point. You could say "See! With all of the effort we put into efficiency, people just find ways to keep using that power -- things never get better!" Or you could say "See! Through increasing efficiency, we can keep improving our quality of life without increasing the impact we have on the world!"
Which one is more persuasive depends on what kind of mood I'm in.