Visiting RMI and Amory Lovins

We’re resting our bones in the Roaring Fork Valley! Six stiff legs, all sorts of sore muscles. Someone said something about his feet. A day off from hiking, and we’re in the Versatile studio recording a podcast. Chris does a two-camera shoot. Lights, cameras, action. I interview; Michael Totten explains his current work with Jeremy Rifkin in Luxemburg. The interview gets personal: “Just what it is that keeps you motivated and so focused on our future?” Afterwards, its time for Glenwood’s classic vapor caves.

We stop by the new Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) headquarters in Basalt to visit Amory Lovins, its founder and chief, one of my most influential mentors. As we pull up to the new headquarters, I flash back to 1987 and the beginnings. RMI has come a long way.  Amory’s at his standing desk, deep in sources and thoughts collected on three monitors. We reminisce, catch up, take photos. He’s proud. We talk flexible LEDs, chairs that cool, the building’s solar and tilt angles, storage and batteries’ demand limiting/rate tariff optimization. The new building is bright and fresh, a great meeting space with break-out rooms. Staff congregates with pleasant chatter in the kitchen. Bikes out front, and as if planted, a young lady softly strums her guitar on the patio.

It was RMI where my mind was blown in the most positive way. Each of us has the power to make a huge difference. Amory catalyzed my understanding of potentials. He showed me the great value of convincing arguments with detailed analyses to back them up. So many great memories… from the first lighting “monologue” that detailed the potential for 91% savings of all U.S. lighting energy at a negative net marginal cost, to the original headquarters and its pair of un-caged iguanas, to visiting with Gorbachev in the Kremlin thanks to Hal Harvey. So many lasting friendships: Sardo, Michael Shepard, Rick Heede, Pat Kiernan, Laura Maggos, Bartlett, Dave Houghton… all still in my life.

One of our favorite interns at RMI during my tenure was Dave Bill, an Alaskan fisherman of some note who was drawn to RMI. He said listening to Amory Lovins speak is like drinking from a fire hose. And he wanted that, and got it, as did we all. Amory’s wit is endless; he’s got a lot to say about the soft energy path. And we were, and all continue to be on his path of hard work, impacting the planet. Amory liked to say that we were saving the world, having fun, and making money… in that order.