Taiwan’s top science award, the Tang Prize, has been awarded to Berkeley Physics Professor Emeritus Arthur Rosenfeld, often called the “godfather of energy efficiency.”
The award, announced over the weekend in Taipei by Nobel laureate Y. T. Lee, himself a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of chemistry and former head of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, each come with a cash prize of $1.24 million, in addition to funds for research.
Lee announced the 2016 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development on June 18, hailing Rosenfeld “for his lifelong and pioneering innovations in energy efficiency resulting in immense reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions around the world.” He is a professor emeritus of physics at UC Berkeley and a distinguished scientist emeritus at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Rosenfeld, a particle physicist, founded the Center for Building Science at Berkeley Lab, which has had a lasting effect on the nation’s energy use. The group developed the high-frequency electronic ballasts that made compact fluorescent light bulbs possible, coated windows to block heat from the sun and computer programs for building energy analysis and design.
As senior adviser to the U.S. Energy Department’s assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy from 1994 to 1999, and later as California’s energy commissioner from 2000 to 2010, he helped pass energy standards for “energy vampires,” which are appliances, such as TVs and computer monitors, that use energy even when they are in “sleep” mode. In recent years, Rosenfeld promoted the widespread use of “white roofs” and “white pavement,” which reflect thermal radiation back into the atmosphere rather than absorbing it.
The Tang Prizes, awarded every two years, were named in homage to the Tang Dynasty, which was known for its cosmopolitanism. Founded in 2012 by Samuel Yin, the prizes are given based on “the originality of their work along with their contributions to society, irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, gender and political affiliation.” The prizes are administered by the Academia Sinica, the foremost academic research institute in Taiwan.
Rosenfeld was one of two UC Berkeley professors awarded. Biochemist Jennifer Doudna was cited for her invention of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. For more on the Tang Awards, visit the Newscenter.