For sale: Home of Art Rosenfeld, ‘godfather’ of energy efficiency

160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty

The North Berkeley home of Art Rosenfeld, who died in January at the age of 90, went on the market this week, priced at $2,190,000.

The four-bedroom Mediterranean house at 160 Southampton Ave. in North Berkeley is architecturally significant enough that it was included on the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association’s “Southampton’s Villas” tour in 1991. It is also testament to the man who encouraged millions of Californians to turn off the lights and use energy-efficient appliances.

Rosenfeld and his wife Roz, who died in 2009, bought the home in 1960 and they were much-loved neighbors as well as him being a renowned scientist. In his obituary, written by Julie Chao at the Berkeley Lab, and published by Berkeleyside, Rosenfeld is described as “a particle physicist who decided one evening four decades ago to turn off unused lights in his Berkeley Lab office building.” Rosenfeld “went on to create the field of energy efficiency, inspire an entire generation of energy researchers, and conduct the rigorous engineering analyses that would lead to breakthroughs in low-energy lighting, windows, refrigerators, buildings, and many other areas, while convincing utilities and policymakers that new power plants — and their accompanying greenhouse gas emissions — were not necessary.”

160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty

The 4,160-square-foot home, built in 1939, boasts classic Mediterranean details including high ceilings, hand-crafted Mission-style oak doors, a wrought-iron chandelier in the entryway, and a majestic staircase. Large picture windows frame a vista of the Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and distant views of Mt. Tamalpais. The 13,200-square-foot lot features mature landscaping around outdoor entertainment spaces.


Maya Trilling of Berkeley Hills Realty, who is handling the sale of the property, counted the Rosenfelds as friends. “He was humble and a wonderful human,” she said of Art Rosenfeld, who she described as a generous man. “He donated a significant amount to UC Berkeley, as well as to other worthy causes.” Trilling talked about the sometimes simple ideas that Rosenfeld would pass on to improve people’s lives: “He went to India and he noticed that all the roofs of the buses were dark, so he suggested the bus operators get buckets of cheap paint and paint them white — making it so much more comfortable for passengers.”

Governor Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, dined last summer on the deck with the Rosenfeld family, Trilling said. Upon learning of his passing, Governor Brown said: “Art Rosenfeld helped make California the world leader in energy efficiency. His path-breaking ideas transformed our energy sector from one of massive waste to increasingly elegant efficiency. I will miss him.” Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, under Barack Obama’s first term, called Art Rosenfeld “his hero.”

160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty
160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty
160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty
160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty
160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty
160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty
160 Southampton Ave. Photo: Courtesy Berkeley Hills Realty