Professor Emeritus George Löf, Founder of CSU's Solar Energy Applications Lab, Dies at 95
George Oscar Löf, retired professor of civil engineering at Colorado State University, passed away at his home in Denver on October 12, 2009, at the age of 95. A memorial service will be announced in November.
A pioneer in solar thermal, building analysis and HVAC systems, Dr. Löf founded the Solar Energy Applications Laboratory (SEAL) on CSU’s Foothills Campus in 1972. His distinctive career earned him worldwide recognition as one of the early, groundbreaking leaders of solar research.
Dr. Löf first became involved with solar energy while earning a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, going on to earn his doctorate in chemical engineering from MIT. He joined Colorado State University in August 1967 and served on the faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering (now Civil and Environmental Engineering) until 1987, when he officially retired, maintaining his connections to CSU by serving as Senior Adviser to SEAL and part-time instructor as a professor in civil engineering. Prior to joining CSU, he taught at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Denver, where he directed the Industrial Research Institute. During his career, he co-authored several books and published numerous papers. He also joined his son in forming a company, Solaron Corporation, to sell equipment that was based on prototypes he developed and used in his own home in Colorado.
An internationally recognized leader in his field, Dr. Löf was a consultant for the United Nations, the State Department, and various organizations. He was involved in exchange programs and projects in the former Soviet Union, China, Poland, Israel, Libya, Australia, and the Union of South Africa. In addition to solar energy conversion, his specialties included fluid mechanics, hydraulics, sanitary engineering, environmental engineering, and water desalting. He served as board member and President (1973-1975) of the International Solar Energy Society. He also served on the board of the American Solar Energy Society.
Under Dr. Löfs direction, the Solar Energy Applications Laboratory became a major systems development center for solar heating and cooling of buildings. When the Lab’s first structure, Solar House I, was built in 1974, it was the first house in the world engineered to be both heated and cooled with solar energy. The major emphasis of CSU’s solar energy research was on improving the performance of systems installed in a real-world environment so that they can reach their theoretical potential. Under Dr. Löf's leadership, faculty and students from civil, mechanical, and chemical engineering received support from the U.S. Department of Energy for studies on room air motion, building and HVAC simulation, short-term energy monitoring, thermal storage, and neural networks for HVAC control.
George Löf was married to Laura Davadell Scobey, who died in 1999. Survivors include his son, two daughters, five grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and a brother.
His works are archived in the Colorado State University Library.