27 November 2013

Review: Reinventing Fire

The following was submitted to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design as part of the Systems Thinking elective in Fall 2013.

Could the United States of America realistically stop using oil and coal by 2050? And could such a vast transition toward efficient use and renewable energy be led by business for durable advantage? (1) It is these two questions that the “Reinventing Fire initiative”, launched by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and spear headed by Amory B. Lovins, set out to answer.

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the
New Energy Era (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011)

The research was published in 2011 in the book Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, however this is simply a distillation of a much larger body of research, disseminated through a variety of other channels including digital media, presentations, conferences, and other research papers. The majority of information is accessible through a comprehensive website and online presence, including a number of open-source tools that can be downloaded and a raft of methodological reports and technical summaries. This paper is primarily concerned with the research as it is presented in the book. Necessary additional insights have been gathered from these other sources.

Reinventing Fire

The book, like the research project, is concentrated around four themes, broken into three sectors—transportation, buildings and industry—that have the potential to “make possible shifts in how electricity is made." (2) An entire chapter is devoted to each of these four themes, with demonstrations of how oil and coal, as well as natural gas in the long run, can be saved. Despite the dynamic interconnectivity of each theme, each chapter can be read as a standalone piece, complete with its own introduction, case studies and conclusions.

Opening with an ‘origin story’ in the Preface, the metaphor of fire is immediately evoked by Lovins. The primeval memory of groups gathered around a fire is a powerful one. Fire not only nurtured our ancestors but also enabled the development of western civilization, however “nearly half of our fellow human beings still live in that medieval world." (3) Of what energy we do currently use globally, 80% is the result of burning the rotten remains of “primeval swamp goo”, or to put it less colloquially, fossil fuels. (4) Furthermore, quoting the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Joint Force Quarterly, Lovins explains that whilst “Energy is the lifeblood of modern societies and a pillar of America’s prowess and prosperity … [but it] is also a major source of global instability, conflict, pollution, and risk." (5) For the RMI team none of the current problems associated with fossil fuels are necessary, either technologically or economically. They go so far as to say that “We can avoid them in ways that tend to reduce energy costs—because technological progress has quietly been making fossil fuels obsolete." (6) The solution posed is that “we just need a new fire", (7) one that allows us to be safe, secure and durable in the future. Here once again the metaphor of fire is used in a powerful and positive manner; just as a forest fire can be seen as productive reallocation of resources, instead of a destructive force, so shall this new fire.

This new fire comprises two intrinsically linked approaches: using energy very efficiently; and getting that energy from diverse and mainly dispersed renewable sources. A “twin transition” is described, one that isn’t restricted to “the old what—technology—and the old how—public policy”, but is instead increasingly about “the new what—integrative design that combines technologies in unexpected ways—and the new how—novel business models and competitive advantages." (8) The two pairings are seen as enhancing one and other, allowing for greater efficiency and diversity in energy solutions. The book’s aim is to show that in each of these four areas “important innovations are converging to create perhaps the biggest flood of disruptive opportunities ever seen, with effects as pervasive as those of the Information Age but even more fundamental." (9)

Before proceeding any further the book is interrupted by two Forewords, the first by Marvin Odum, President of Shell Oil Company, and the second by John W. Rowe, Chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation. The inclusion of these short pieces are no doubt crucial to achieving the buy-in of any major business heavily indebted to the current energy network, although they extent to which Odum and Rowe ‘buy-in’ to Lovins argument isn’t exclusively clear. (10)

Returning to the central argument of the book Chapter One, Defossilizing Fossil Fuels, sets out the ‘bigger picture’ of a U.S. economy built on cheap oil and coal. (11) Today U.S. gasoline prices are about half to one-third the “normal” price in other industrial countries and this in turn “has helped to create a pervasive pattern of inefficient vehicles and settlement patterns that maximize driving, causing a massive treasure transfer from America to oil exporting nations." (12) In 2008 America’s Oil bill came to $0.9 trillion but $388 billion went abroad (approximately 43%). (13) The total cost of oil dependence, including U.S. military expenditures for Persian Gulf forces, and minus the cost of the oil itself, equates to approximately $1.5 trillion a year, or 12% of GDP. (14) Early on Lovins relies on twin tactics, the use of empirical data and ‘shock and awe’ statements. For example, “A Pentagon study found that a handful of people in one evening could cut off three-fourths of the oil and gas supplies to the eastern U.S. without even leaving Louisiana." (15)

Energy consumption in the U.S. economy, 2010-2050.

The energy economy of the U.S. is complex, with a myriad of uses for the energy generated, however Lovins believes that the application of three basic principles—do more with less, modulate demand, and optimize supply—can, if applied holistically, rid the U.S. of its fossil fuel dependency. (16) However, this weaning is limited to coal and oil, natural gas is still seen as part of the energy mix in 2050. Nuclear Fission is also removed, on the basis of its hazardous waste and a link between nuclear power generation and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. (17)

Lovins goes on to outline how the proposals presented in Reinventing Fire show efficiency savings—doing more with less—can be used to achieve a larger economy, by 2050, with half the delivered energy, with less risk, and for $5 trillion less (in net present value). (18) Evidence for these efficiency savings trends is found in current data, not projections, wherein “By 2009, America was making a dollar of real GDP using 60% less oil, 50% less energy, 63% less directly used natural gas, and 20% less electricity than in 1975." (19) RMI’s proposals are aimed at accelerating these trends.

Reinventing Fire U.S. Energy Consumption in 2050.

Chapter 2, Transportation: Fitter Vehicles, Smarter Use, tackles the first key theme, setting out to show how we by 2050 we can “drive superefficient vehicles fuelled by a flexible mix of electricity, hydrogen, and sustainable biofuels (and, if desired, some natural gas for trucks), and we’d use those vehicles far more productively." (20) Just as the wider economy will derive its energy from a mix of sources, so will vehicles. In the case of biofuels this equates to an equivalent of 3.1 billion barrels of oil today, less than five times of volume of today’s U.S. biofuels industry, which provided 3% of 2010 mobility fuel. Lovins acknowledges that there are substantial challenges to overcome, most notably the inertial drag of current transportation industries and will require the buy-in of all stakeholders. (21) Three critical ways for business to lead this transformation are proposed: drive the transition to superefficient vehicles; invest across technologies and fuel types; and support policies to speed the transition to radical vehicle efficiency and productivity. (22)

Buildings are the focus of Chapter 3, Buildings: Designing for Better Living. Here the challenge is scaled up because “Building a few million ultralight electric cars seems almost trivial compared to retrofitting or replacing everything from double-wides in a trailer park to high-rises in San Jose.” (23) Furthermore, building-based solutions “require every single American to make different choices." (24) If enough societal change can take place “efficient buildings can become the foundation, and efficient vehicles and factories the pillars, of the vastly different U.S. energy system we’re already starting to build—less risky, probably less costly, and far more robust and resilient." (25) The end result is that by 2050, despite a 70% increase in floor space, buildings will use 13-55% less electricity and 24-68% less natural gas than compared to 2010 levels. Remarkably this could be achieved without using any onsite renewables, simply relying on efficiency savings. (26) “Transforming America’s building sector will demand national attention and action, an intensive ramp-up of investment and innovation, and broadly targeted policy enhancements and changes.” (27)

"Where does the money go?" Average annual consumer expenditures in the U.S.

While Lovins argues that the experienced practitioners already do know what to do, there are six main imperatives that should be driving this sectors transformation. (28) First, there is a need to attack buildings’ inefficiencies with trans-disciplinary insight and entrepreneurship. Second, energy use must be made more transparent. (29) Third, provide easy-to-access financing, priced commensurate with energy efficiency’s exceptionally low risk. Fourth, train and educate a high-quality workforce. Fifth, upgrade to next-generation building efficiency policies and align utility incentives. And finally, begin overhauling how building design is done, taught and built.

The final sector analysed, Industry: Remaking How We Make Things, is the focus of Chapter 4, and by now a common theme has emerged wherein Lovins surveys the existing situation, proposes changes, presents some concluding remarks, and ends with a table of recommendations for the key actors in that sector to pursue. Lovins focuses on the idea of creating resilience in industry, “the ability to survive in hard years and flourish in good ones, learning from stress to become ever more adaptive." (30) He draws parallels between rainforest and industrial ecosystems, stating that a different, longer-term view is required by business, one more akin to “a rainforest than of a chainsaw operator." (31) The key concepts to achieve “startling efficiency” in industry are summarised as: invest in factories and in the people on the factory floor; innovate to guarantee long-term competitiveness; and incentivise the right behaviour. (32) The environmental references continue with talk of “Obvious evolutionary pressures to make industry more robust and resilient, to work like an ecosystem” perhaps most importantly “properly pricing the commons into which things get thrown “away”, whether gunk in our water, junk in our landfills, soot in our lungs, or carbon in our air." (33)

It is argued that the lack of respect for the commons (34) has created “deliberately false price signals, subsidies, and other lopsided policies that handicap the whole economy." (35) This in turn has put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage compared to Germany and Japan, where the “more truthful prices” are driving bigger efficiency gains.

Having established the possibilities of these three key sectors, Chapter 5, Electricity: Repowering Prosperity, proposes a “hybrid of centralized and distributed renewables, integrated by advanced communications and controls that securely choreograph supply- and demand-side resources nearly in real time". (36) Central to this argument is the convergence of 21st century technologies and business models with 20th and 19th century cultures and institutions. As in the previous chapters, several lessons and core actions emerge: one, it is about choosing a system that can best exploit the full range of supply- and demand-side options in an integrated, least-cost fashion; two, the economic and technical challenges are much smaller than the needed institutional shifts; and finally, energy consumers will choose whether and when to adopt new technologies, inform their choices, change their behaviours.

The final chapter, Many Choices, On Future, brings the discussion to a close with a fictional account of what the U.S. might be like if the Reinventing Fire strategies are implemented. The future is not too outwardly dissimilar to the U.S. of today: “The coffee smells the same and the view out the window of the house onto a quiet neighbourhood looks fairly similar." (37) The tone is positive, however whilst the ‘interface’ may be the same, the underlying systems look remarkably different; this attitude recalls the “hedonistic sustainability” championed by some architectural practices, such as BIG (38) Lovins though puts it along these lines: “Energy can do our work without working our undoing." (39)

Difficulties, Risks and Barriers to Change

In Chapter 6 Lovins touches upon the political ‘hot potato’ of fracking and shale gas, he admits that “It will probably take a decade to resolve fracking controversies, reform bad operators, and build a stable regulatory engine that earns public confidence." (40) Nevertheless, natural gas is seen as a key transition fuel to assist with the process of removing coal, oil and nuclear but is still part of the energy consumption mix in 2050. It would seem then that the U.S. cannot fully shake its fossil fuel dependency by 2050. (41)

Despite this difficulty, Lovins suggests that the risks to the Reinventing Fire vision are limited, and although it “includes some technological advances based on aggressive learning curves, especially for carbon fibres, batteries, and renewable technologies, the accelerating advances in material and biological sciences suggests that [their] assumptions might be conservative." (42) There are of course “problems” (read risks), however these lie outside of the technological and economic arguments; these are referenced throughout the book and have resulted in efficiency and renewable technologies not being adopted as quickly as the Reinventing Fire path would need them to be." (43)

The range of barriers includes: active or passive resistance by incumbents; knowledge and culture; financing; value-chain complexity; unclear value proposition; lack of long-term leadership; policy and regulatory structures; and entanglement with partisan politics. (44) However, the main barrier is “slow adoption rates, not inadequate technologies." (45) Each sector also faces individual challenges, for example, the slow-turnover in buildings, industry and electricity. “If these sectors don’t reach roughly 40% adoption rates by 2030, later years’ adoption is unlikely to make up for those early delays." (46)

Business solutions for the United States of America

Whilst Lovins and his contributors may suggest an expanded world view throughout the book, this is first and foremost a book about the U.S. and the new energy era—a more accurate title would be Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the United States of America in the New Energy Era—and as such a nationalistic rhetoric runs throughout. These statements often rely on fall-back position that glorifies America’s past achievements and that “The real underlying fuel of America and of modern civilization is innovation and ingenuity." (47) The question is posed that “As the greatest transition in industrial history unfolds, will America lead this transformation or trail behind others, condemned by old thinking and bad politics to lose the opportunity?” (48) There is an implication here that America has lost its way in the world and that it needs to carve out a new space by striving “to be the sort of society others admire, emulate, and want to do business with." (49)

When other countries are introduced into the discussion it is often to highlight the lack of action being taken in the U.S. For example, “China invested $54 billion in clean energy in 2010—60% more than the U.S. (and 139% more in relation to GDP)”. (50) Other examples have already been highlighted, including the “oddly persistent” myth “that a country can best compete in the global economy by keeping energy prices low.” If this myth were true “America, the current world capital of cheap-energy policy, would have no trouble beating countries like Germany and Japan". (51)

The what and not the why

I would argue that the single greatest achievement of Lovins and the RMI team is not the way in which they are able to re-frame the boundaries of the energy question facing the U.S., rather it is their ability to shift the focus from the why to the what, whilst still demonstrating the how. “Amid the energy cacophony, the swirl of conflicting opinions and agendas, this simple approach bears emphasis: if together we focus on outcomes, not motives, that’s good enough, because the actual things to be done are the same no matter whether we each care most about national security, profits and jobs, climate and environment, or something else." (52) The approach of proposing “bold business solutions” in the title of the book underlines this; surely business leaders will be more receptive to the what than the why.

This then is not a book about Climate Change, the why that is typically at the core of any discussion today on issues surrounding energy. As Lovins describes: “For you to welcome this book’s thesis and embrace its recommendations, you needn’t accept the global scientific consensus on the reality and severity of the risks of climate change." (53) The Copenhagen climate conference (2009) is highlighted as an example of how “pricing carbon and winning international collaboration are hard if policymakers, pundits, and most citizens assume climate protection will be costly.” To go further, ever since the Kyoto Conference (1997) “most efforts to hedge climate risks have made four main errors: assuming solutions will be costly rather than profitable; insisting they be motivated by concerns about climate rather than about security, profit, or economic development; assuming they require a global treaty; and assuming U.S. business can do little or nothing before carbon is priced." (54) Chapters 2 through 5 aim to demonstrate that these assumptions are wrong; instead the conversation should turn to issues surrounding “wealth creation, jobs, and competitive advantage”, ensuring maximum buy-in from a maximum number of stakeholders”. (55) To borrow Markusen’s (2003) analysis of the term ‘sustainability’ I would posit it that Lovins relies on “fuzzy concepts” throughout the book. (56) Whilst he seeks to avoid the “linguistic slippage" (57) afforded by terminology such as sustainability, arguably because it has “emerged as a catchall term for many of humanity’s diverse environmental concerns and responses, so that it now acts as a point of identification and belief for many”, terms like ‘wealth creation’ or ‘competitive advantage’ are equally ‘slippery’. (58)

It is of course hard to escape from so-called ‘green wash’ today, wherein ‘green issues’, are used to smuggle in other outcomes. Penelope Dean demonstrates the potential for ‘green’ ideas to be “used as a Trojan horse to both recuperate a sociocultural design project for architecture and urbanism and to smuggle back into the disciplines those things that have ultimately been left behind”. (59) Lovins argument highlights that ‘green’ may not always be the most appropriate cover under which to smuggle our agendas, and as such the power of the dollar should not be undervalued in this respect as a tool to leverage a more socially durable position. This is not to say that the dollar is any more of a false idol than green is and we should always be aware of such blunt ideological instruments.

The limitations of the printed word

It is virtually impossible to separate the book from the entire Reinventing Fire project, whilst it is undoubtedly an integral part to RMI’s strategy for disseminating their findings; it is only one element from a project with a much broader scope because the issues it tackles cannot be solved by one book alone. Immediate comparisons can be drawn between the Reinventing Fire project and the EU Roadmap 2050 proposals that emerged in 2010. Road Map 2050 is an initiative of the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and was developed by a consortium of experts to “provide a practical, independent and objective analysis of pathways to achieve a low-carbon economy in Europe, in line with the energy security, environmental and economic goals of the European Union." (60) The research was never presented in one definitive book, rather the ECF chose to publish it in three separate volumes: Technical and Economic Analysis; Policy Report; and, Graphic Narrative. (61) The benefit of this is that the different data streams can be parsed for their respective audiences, whilst sharing a framework in the methodology and technical studies. As with Reinventing Fire a raft other digital media is also available through a website. Whilst the two messages share some commonalities they are different in their approach, in Reinventing Fire the emphasis is on business-led change, in Roadmap 2050 individual governments of the nation-states take a more prominent role in the transition to a carbon free economy.

An interactive iPad App was launched to help promote The Metropolitan
Revolution project. It is updated with new case studies on a regular basis. 

Lovins and RMI may have invested their time more productively by establishing a series of separate volumes, aimed at different audiences, rather than attempting to design a catch-all book that arguably ends up leaving the reader over whelmed by its breadth of scope. The columns, the long chapters, and the use of sidebars leave it slightly confused, at times it reads like a text book, at others like a set of financial accounts. Producing a narrative volume, similar to Volume III of Roadmap 2050, may have better disseminated what is a highly important message to a larger population. The use of the word ‘narrative’ does not necessarily mean a fully representative account of what this future might look like, but rather a more concise, better illustrated analysis of the present and the paths to that future. For example, the renderings presented in Roadmap 2050 are not highly polished but they still succeed in conveying a message that different audiences can understand. Lovins may not have wanted to depict exactly what this future would look like, despite his description of it in the final chapter, and yet an important opportunity is missed by not doing so.
Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley’s work on The Metropolitan Revolution, whilst not necessarily a research initiative in the same vein as either Reinventing Fire or Roadmap 2050, documents the growing trend wherein “Across the nation, cities and metropolitan areas, and the networks of pragmatic leaders who govern them, are taking on the big issues that Washington won’t, or can’t, solve." (62) This ‘projects’ primary means for disseminating its message is through a book (with the customary lecture circuit to accompany it), however unlike Reinventing Fire and Roadmap 2050 the Brookings Institute have chosen to release a free iPad App that “brings examples of the revolution to life, with video interviews, infographics and data visualizations." (63) This allows them to develop their case over time, adding new cities to the app as more research is gathered, and extends the message beyond the lifetime of the book, which is after all produced at a frozen point in time. It seems highly unusual that RMI have not gone to similar measures with Reinventing Fire and the website is too reliant on words. That RMI are capable of better distilling their ideas is not in doubt, as demonstrated in their short YouTube videos, but it does seem strange, given the importance placed on the Information Age and social media in the book that these have not been exploited to their full potential.

Sustained transformation in the built environment industry

Throughout the book Lovins repeatedly returns to the economic argument that “Some $5 trillion in savings over 40 years may seem small in a $15-trillion-per-year economy. But it’s the opposite of the economic collapse that some pundits predict." (64) However, it can been demonstrated that sustained effort pays off: California shrank greenhouse-gas emissions per dollar of GDP by 30% between 1990-2006, whilst Denmark shrank its energy intensity 39% and its carbon intensity 50%, made its electricity 28% more renewable and three-fourths micropower, and created a world-class renewables industry between 1980-2006 (65)

In describing the world post Reinventing Fire clear references to issues affecting all disciplines in the built environment industry are made. A future where “we organize our communities around people, not autos, we drive much less because the places where we live, work, play and shop are nearly all in easy walking distance” has obvious implications for the way our architects and urban planners of the future must operate." (66) Furthermore “The old zoning rules that ended up segregating housing by income level, causing isolation and dispersion, and requiring that you have a costly private car to get anywhere, are long repealed." (67)

Today cities are no longer considered as two-variable (density and open space) problems but instead as complex entities more comparable to the emergent behaviours witnessed in ecology. The world post Reinventing Fire is the same, with urban and industrial ecosystems where what waste is generated becomes food for another part of the system. (68) The Kalundbord Eco-industrial Park, Denmark, is a prime example of this happening today. A process of “industrial symbiosis” allows a network of regional companies to collaborate, use each other’s by-products and share resources. (69)
If there is one ‘hero’ in the world of Reinventing Fire it is not one person but an idea—integrated design—that will enable this post-fossil fuel U.S. to come to fruition. It is curious that at the same time that the ‘old fire’ began to proliferate, during the Industrial Revolution, that the proliferation of specialists took place and everything became de-integrated. Not only does two hundred years of energy structure need to be transformed but a milieu two hundred years in the making must also be reshaped. “To turn dis-integrated design into highly integrative design, architectural and engineering pedagogy needs reform, in-practice design professionals need mental retreads, clients need to value and require integrative design by experiencing its benefits, and incentive-aligning approaches like performance-based design fees and integrated project delivery need to become the norm." (70)

I would like to leave the final word not with Lovins but instead with Belgian architect Julien De Smedt. I believe they are describing very similar futures when, in 2010, De Smedt, wrote: “As young architects, our generation must enthusiastically embrace new ideas about sustainability, questioning inherited doctrine and forging new trajectories. We are the first generation of architects for whom sustainability was embedded in our education—what could in the near future come to be known as the post-sustainability generation. We believe architecture must shift its focus from sustain to ability, abandoning the ambiguity , guilt and compromise characteristic of too much sustainable design today, and demanding instead precise, beautiful, and systematic instigations for change." (71)


The following was submitted to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design as part of the Systems Thinking elective in Fall 2013.

1. Lovins, A., Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (2011), White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, p. IX.
2. Ibid., p. IX.
3. Ibid., p. XI.
4. Lovins, A. ‘A 40-year plan for energy’, TED Talks [Online] February 2012. Available at: [Accessed 13th November 2013]
5. Lovins, A., (2011), op. cit., p. XII.
6. Ibid., p. XII.
7. Ibid., p. XI.
8. Ibid., p. XIII. The use of italics is my own.
9. Ibid., p. XIII. The use of italics is my own.
10. Ibid., p. XVI. In his piece Rowe highlights that “carbon is not the only harm that comes from burning fossil fuels. Burning coal emits sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulates, mercury, arsenic, lead, hydrochloric acid and other acid gases, dioxins, and the other toxins that are harmful to human health.” He also points out that “Natural gas, an abundant, inexpensive, domestic resource, will play a key role as the bridge to whatever energy future prevails.”
11. Ibid., p. 3.
12. Ibid., p. 3.
13. Ibid., p. 3. This is equivalent to a 2% tax on the whole economy, without the revenues that would generate.
14. Ibid., p. 4. This is far greater than the total U.S. energy bill.
15. Ibid., p. 6. In the modern, digital age, we are often bombarded by information Lovins is still able to ‘shock’ us with the majority of his revelations.
16. Ibid., pp. 11-2.
17. An interestingly paradox could present itself here when dealing with nuclear energy, as Nuclear Fusion is discounted due to the lack of viable energy production currently and the substantial work required to reach a point where it can add For recent developments in Nuclear Fusion see Rincon, P., ’Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab’, BBC News [Online], 7th October 2013. Available at: [Accessed: 13th November 2013]
18. Ibid., p. 11.
19. Ibid., p. 13.
20. Ibid., p. 69.
21. As always his argument is that this is easier than not doing anything and having to deal with those consequences.
22. Ibid., pp. 70-1.
23. Ibid., p. 118.
24. Ibid., p. 118.
25. Ibid, p. 118.
26. Ibid., p. 119. There is obviously a big difference between saving 13% electricity and 55% electricity, the target is to achieve the higher figure and is perhaps reflective of the challenge societal changes present.
27. Ibid., p. 117.
28. Ibid., pp. 117-8.
29. Ibid., p. 117. This is a real possibility through “Cheaper sensors and monitoring technologies, cheap and ubiquitous telecommunications, the dawn of the smart grid, and rising customer demand are creating momentum, capability, and markets for high-quality data collection and application."
30. Ibid., pp. 158-9.
31. Ibid., p. 158.
32. Ibid., pp. 161-2.
33. Ibid., p. 159. Other “pressures” include: desubsidizing fuel; mandating producer lifecycle responsibility; allowing and encouraging waste-heat recovery and reuse; removing distortions that favour virgin over recycled materials; and letting business expense energy-saving investments against taxable income rather than having to capitalize them.
34. This is a direct reference to ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’.
35. Lovins, op. cit., p. 159.
36. Ibid., p. 222. This would use “islandable microgrids as necessary to ensure resilience."
37. Ibid., p. 229. This is markedly different to the world described in the utopian novel of Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston (1975).
38. Ingels, B., ‘Hedonistic Sustainability’, TED Talks [Online] January 2012. Available at: [Accessed 13th November 2013]
39. Lovins, op. cit., p. 232.
40. Ibid., p. 233.
41. There is no reference to what could be seen as the clever marketing of the word ‘natural’ in ‘natural gas’.
42. Ibid., p. 234.
43. Ibid., p. 234.
44. Ibid., pp. 246-7.
45. Ibid., p. 247.
46. Ibid., p. 248.
47. Ibid., p. 228.
48. Ibid., p. 228.
49. Lovins adds: “What better way to be a moral beacon and reinvigorate our own aspirations than helping lead the world to the cleaner, safer future this book envisions?" Ibid., p. 241.
50. This is more than the world’s entire clean energy investment in 2004. Ibid., p. 243.
51. Ibid., p. 239.
52. Ibid., pp. 250-1.
53. Ibid., p. 238.
54. Ibid., pp. 238-9.
55. These issues can also “sweeten the politics so much that any remaining resistance can melt faster than the glaciers.” Ibid., p. 238.
56. Markusen, A., Fuzzy concepts, scanty evidence, policy distance: The case for rigour and policy relevance in critical regional studies, Regional Studies 37 (2003), p. 702., in Gunder, M. Sustainability: Planning’s Saving Grace or Road to Perdition?, Journal of Planning Education and Research (2006), p. 211. Markusen defines a fuzzy concept as something that “posits an entity, phenomenon, or process that possess two or more alternative meanings and thus cannot be identified or applied reliably."
57. Gunder, M. Sustainability: Planning’s Saving Grace or Road to Perdition?, Journal of Planning Education and Research (2006), p. 213. Gunder adds that “Planners regularly use these ambiguous terms, often as justification for their professional actions…” The term ‘Planner’ could just as readily be swapped with the term ‘Architect. Ibid., p. 212.
58. Ibid., p. 209. Gunder adds that it is not just professionals working in the built environment who require “ideological concepts of belief and identification to be fuzzy”, but that the wider “socio-political processes” would not function without them. p., 213.
59. Dean, P., ‘Under Cover of Green’, in Cuff, D, and Sherman, R., ed., Fast-Forward Urbanism: Rethinking Architecture’s Engagement with the City (2010), New York: Princeton Architectural Press, p. 65.
60. Roadmap 2050, 2013, Roadmap 2050 [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 13th November 2013]
61. Volume I: Technical and Economic Analysis was prepared by: McKinsey & Company; KEMA; The Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London; Oxford Economics and the ECF. Volume II: Policy Report was prepared by: E3G; The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands; The Regulatory Assistance Project and the ECF. Volume III: Graphic Narrative was prepared by: The Office for Metropolitan Architecture and the ECF. Each of these volumes is available digitally and at the time they were made freely available in print form too.
62. The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy (2013), Brookings Institution Press [Online] Available at: [Accessed 13th November 2013]
63. iPad App (2013), The Metropolitan Revolution [Online] Available at: [Accessed 13th November 2013]
64. Lovins, op. cit., p. 235.
65. Ibid., p. 239.
66. Ibid., pp. 229-30. Lovins continues “Sprawl is no longer subsidized either: developers pay all the costs they impose on public infrastructure and services.” For further discussion on the changing role of the suburbs in the U.S. see Leigh Gallagher’s recent book ‘The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving’ (2013).
67. Ibid., p. 230.
68. Ibid. p. 231.
69. Kalundborg Symbiosis, 2013, Kalundborg Symbiosis [Online] Available at: [Accessed 13th November 2013] This arose unintentionally through market forces, over fifty years, making it a model of private planning and initiatives that Lovins is advocating. Of course this network has a coal-fired power plant at its centre which wouldn’t suffice in the world post Reinventing Fire.
70. Lovins, op. cit., p. 118. The challenge of performance-based design fees presents the largest challenges here, in part due to a lack of research-based practice within the built environment professions.
71. Mostafavi, M. and Doherty, G., Ecological Urbanism (2010), Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers, p. 122. The use of italics is my own.