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Eckelman Part of $10M EPA Center

May 16, 2016

CEE Assistant Professor Matthew Eckelman will be a part of a $10M, 5-year EPA center which is co-hosted by Yale and John Hopkins. The "SEARCH: Solutions to Energy, AiR, Climate, and Health" Center is one of three in the country and includes Yale, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Michigan, University of Chicago, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, North Carolina State University, the Center for Disease Control, and Northeastern University. The center is investigating emerging energy transitions in the U.S. and the resulting air pollution and health outcomes through state-of-the-art modeling and measurements to characterize factors contributing to emissions, air quality, and health.  The group will estimate how these factors affect regional and local differences in air pollution and health today, and will quantify the impacts of key modifiable factors on air quality and health and associated changes under current and future conditions. Their hypothesis is that pending U.S. energy transitions will profoundly impact air quality and health.

Eckelman will be part of the team that will be "Modeling Emissions from Energy Transitions".

Source: EPA: Project 1: Modeling Emissions from Energy Transitions


Transitions in the U.S. energy system will profoundly influence regional emissions and air quality. Examples include adoption of electric vehicles; expanding distributed electric generation, renewables, and demand response; growing unconventional oil and natural gas; climate change impacts on energy use; and a transition to a carbon-constrained economy. We plan to inform sound policy by:

  1. Developing scenarios describing the transitions;
  2. Modeling these scenarios in the state-of-the-art U.S. DOE National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) to project future energy use, technology adoption, and emissions by region;
  3. Using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to model additional pollutants not currently in NEMS including manufacture of technologies; and
  4. Downscaling emissions to temporal and spatial scales needed for air quality simulation and evaluating alternative downscaling methods that account for regional policies, siting of new generation, and changed operations.

Results will be used by Projects 3 and 4 to estimate effects on air quality and health. Findings will provide insights on regional effects of energy transitions, including impacts upon vulnerable populations. Sensitivity analyses will bound the estimates’ uncertainty. We hypothesize that the energy transitions will be mediated by energy, transport, and other factors that can be influenced by policy, pointing to novel solutions that recognize regional aspects of emissions and air quality and account for a changing climate.


To achieve the objectives we will:

  1. Develop detailed policy-relevant scenarios through reviewing the literature and collaborating with the Decision Maker Team of air directors and the Policy and Decision Making Unit;
  2. Model detailed, novel scenarios, including modifiable factors, through NEMS for 4 decades;
  3. Apply LCA to expand the suite of emissions modeled; and
  4. Implement a state-of-the-art NEMS-SMOKE modeling approach to emissions downscaling, with comparison to alternative methods that capture sub-regional policies.

Expected Results:

The comprehensive NEMS projections of major energy transitions will provide guidance on the most effective modifiable factors for protecting regional environmental, health, and societal well-being in the context of a changing climate. The LCA will provide an innovative broader perspective upon emissions from the transitions, including from manufacturing. Alternative downscaling approaches will show how impacts can be mediated by regional policy. Key outcomes include a deeper understanding of the regional effects of air, energy, and climate policies, as they interact with the energy transitions. The project will bridge disciplines, enhancing state-of-the-art science in air, climate and energy modeling.