Popular Mechanics has tapped Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute cofounder, chairman, and chief scientist, to receive a 2007 Breakthrough Award based on work done to make businesses more efficient.Here are three of RMI’s breakthrough ideas: 1. Hawaii Gateway Energy CenterLovins and the RMI helped design the 3600-sq.-ft. Hawaii Gateway Energy Center in Kailua-Kona as a net-zero energy facility. Among several efficient design elements, the building forms a thermal chimney: Sun-heated air flows up and out stacks in the slopedroof, pulling air that’s been cooled by 45-degree seawater into the work space below — no fans or conventional a/c is needed. 2. Wal-Mart Truck FleetWal-Mart is aiming to double the fuel economy of trucks entering its 6800-unit fleet, using ideas from Lovins and RMI. For example, cabs have small auxiliary engines so drivers don’t need to idle their main engines, trailer side skirts cut wind resistance, and single, wider tires replace some double tires to reduce rolling resistance. 3. Texas InstrumentsChip-Fabrication Plants typically move water for climate control with small pipes that require power-hungry pumps. Lovins and his RMI team helped design a Texas Instruments chip-fabrication plant with wider, straighter pipes and smaller pumps. A more efficient HVAC system that harnesses waste heat allowed the team to eliminate a 1600-ton chiller and at least four boilers.
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