I first became interested in renewable energy after working at the Denver Planning Office as Chief Cartographer for the Community Renewal Program (CRP) just after graduating from the University of Denver in 1971 with a degree in geography and a chemistry minor. I lived up in the Front Range, southwest of Denver, with my wife and newborn son. There were days when the smog was so thick because of temperature inversions over the Platt River Basin that I would turn around and call in sick because I knew if I drove down into that soup, it would exacerbate my asthma.
That experience informed my decision to go back to school to study pollution. The more I learned, the more it became clear to me that air pollution was mostly a symptom of the wasteful use of fossil fuels—in automobiles, airplanes, and coal-burning power plants.
After the CRP project was completed, I decided to work with Morey Wolfson, Director of Environmental Action of Colorado (EAC) at the University of Colorado/Denver Campus in downtown Denver. This organization played a key role in charting the course of my life. One of the main advisors to this group was a well-respected Denver architect, Richard L. Crowther. He and Dr. Jerry Plunkett encouraged the group to hold a conference focused on energy conservation and renewable energy. We titled it the “Solar Heating, Cooling, and Energy Conservation Conference,” and it was held at the Denver Holiday Inn in May 1974.
This meeting had the good fortune of being the first federally funded international conference event that was to focus on solar energy and conservation following the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. As a result, we had over 500 participants from all around the globe in attendance. This may not sound like a large conference audience, and it’s not…