Energy Justice Professor Sanya Carley Earns EPA Funding

Co-Faculty Director Sanya Carly and her team were awarded an EPA grant to evaluate the effects of weatherization and electrification on household energy consumption and behavior, energy poverty, and indoor air quality for urban Cincinnati.

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the recipients of its $11-million energy justice Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants. Sanya Carley, energy policy professor and co-director of the Kleinman Center, was selected along with her team.

Each of the EPA’s select research organizations—eleven in all—will now address the drivers and environmental impacts of energy transitions in underserved and Tribal communities.

With their approximately $1.125 million in grant support, Carley and her team will evaluate the effects of weatherization and electrification on household energy consumption and behavior, energy poverty, and indoor air quality for residents of multi-family dwelling units in urban Cincinnati. Her inter- and multi-disciplinary team includes researchers from Penn, Carnegie Mellon, and Indiana University; practitioners from Green Umbrella, the city of Cincinnati; and community partners with Over the Rhine Community Housing.

“This project will offer an important opportunity to evaluate preventative solutions to energy insecurity in cold weather climates,” said Carley. “I am enthusiastic to work with this stellar and multi-disciplinary team that has such extensive experience on topics related to housing and energy insecurity.”

“Addressing climate change and environmental justice issues are two priorities that are integral to EPA’s mission,” said Chris Frey, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This research will help us understand how transitioning away from fossil-based energy systems may impact communities and can help pave the way to a just and equitable energy future.”

The goal of this research is to increase understanding of the environmental impacts of shifting energy and transportation systems on underserved and Tribal communities as well as what drives decisions to adopt renewable energy sources, energy-efficient technologies, and new transportation options. Grantees will engage with communities and Tribes in these projects, learning from their lived experience and expertise to better respond to community needs.

The following institutions received EPA awards

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Mass., to engage with lower income households and neighborhoods in Holyoke, Massachusetts, to improve knowledge on drivers, barriers, and environmental benefits of shifting to using electric sources of energy within households.
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, to engage with indigenous, rural, and low-income communities in Maine to understand the role of statewide Local Energy Action Networks (LEANs) in supporting and advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency adoption.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., to work with rural and urban community members in New England to deliver information and tools that empower community-based environmental organizations to identify and advocate for renewable energy projects that are consistent with community values. 
  • Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, N.C., to partner with communities living near concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in eastern North Carolina to determine the environmental, public health, economic, and environmental justice impacts of large-scale swine waste-to-energy operations.
  • ***Green Umbrella, Cincinnati, Ohio, to evaluate the effects of using electrical power and energy efficiency on household energy consumption, security, and behavior, as well as on indoor air quality for residents of multi-family dwelling units in urban Cincinnati. 
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Ill., to investigate the air quality and public health impacts of transitioning to electric freight vehicles, with a focus on the Little Village neighborhood in southwest Chicago. 
  • Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich., to engage with Tribal and rural community leaders in forest-dependent communities in northern Michigan to study the impacts of current energy systems and pathways for energy transitions that enhance community well-being through improved public health, economic opportunity, and energy justice outcomes. 
  • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, to engage with underserved communities in the Columbus Metropolitan Area to understand community use of electrical power and mobility needs, and to develop assessments and toolkits to support decision-makers on energy transitions that improve health, environmental and social conditions in underserved communities.
  • University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif., to assess and communicate the air quality and health implications of a transition from oil refining to biofuel for energy production and to engage with communities near oil refineries in the northeast San Francisco Bay area to develop a web-based tool for informing petroleum refinery conversions or retirement.
  • Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., to develop a framework for evaluating neighborhood air pollution changes arising from shifting to alternative public transportation and electricity generation, using Maricopa County, Arizona, as a case study. 
  • Portland State University, Portland, Ore., to engage with communities in the western U.S. to understand the environmental justice impacts of renewable energy storage from a community-engaged perspective, focusing on different nodes spanning the life cycle of renewable energy storage infrastructures, activities, and technologies.

***Project led by Sanya Carley and team