Sustainable Systems Science for Accelerating Clean Energy Transitions and Climate Solutions

The next few years are critical. Immediate and deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are necessary across all sectors or limiting warming to 1.5 °C will be beyond reach.  Sustainable systems science provides a useful framework and tools to characterize mobility, buildings, food, and other systems and to guide and accelerate sustainability transformations.  Systems analysis tools such as life cycle assessment can be used to evaluate incumbent systems as well as outcomes from interventions addressing and aligning technology, design, policy, market, and consumer behavior – levers that are key to accelerating clean energy and climate solutions.

Life cycle-based tools are valuable systems analysis methods because they encompass production and consumption processes, can map to stakeholder decisions, generate a wide set of performance metrics (e.g., energy and carbon footprints, cost), and can uncover tradeoffs in outcomes that exist across space and time.

This seminar will demonstrate the utility of life cycle-based methods including life cycle design and optimization tools.  Key findings from Center for Sustainable Systems research on automobiles (e.g., ICEV, BEV, CAV), buildings (e.g., whole buildings, appliances, lighting), infrastructure, and food systems will be highlighted to inform future carbon neutrality research, technology development, consumer choices, and policy.

Dr. Greg Keoleian is the Peter M. Wege Professor of Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan and serves as Director of the Center for Sustainable Systems, which he cofounded in 1991.  He has appointments as Professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability and in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and co-directs MI Hydrogen, a cross campus enterprise to create hydrogen solutions that accelerate clean energy transitions.

His research focuses on the development and application of life cycle models and sustainability metrics to guide the design and improvement of products and technology.  He analyzes life cycle energy, greenhouse gas emissions, costs and other impacts of conventional and alternative vehicle technology, renewable energy technologies, buildings and infrastructure, and food systems to improve their sustainability.

He has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan and was recently named to the Reuters Hot List of the world’s top climate scientists.

New Wine in Old Bottle: Evolution of the Texas Electricity Market Since 2021 Blackouts and Broader Electricity System Implications

In February 2021 winter storm Uri left hundreds dead and tens of billions of dollars in losses in Texas. This talk will take an integrative stock of the lessons and insights that have emerged regarding the functioning of the ERCOT electricity market in the aftermath of Uri. By examining the nature of recent changes in electricity policy and regulation in ERCOT amid a vastly different federal policy landscape since Uri, the talk will explore the drivers of those changes and the implications for electricity system design and operations.

Dr. Varun Rai is the Walt and Elspeth Rostow Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, with a joint appointment in Mechanical Engineering. His interdisciplinary research, delving with issues at the interface of energy systems, complex systems, decision science, and public policy, develops policy solutions for a sustainable and resilient energy system. During 2013-2015 he was a Commissioner for the vertically-integrated electric utility Austin Energy and from 2019-2021 he served as director of the UT Austin Energy Institute. Dr. Rai was awarded the 2016 David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, which “was established to honor persons who, at under the age of 40, have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy analysis and management.” He received his Ph.D. and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

Energy Planning and Emissions Reductions: AEC-EMIT, SCC, and Equity

A brief introduction to applied work in the areas of energy planning and emissions reductions modeling. This presentation will include examples from the presenter’s work on emissions modeling in Puerto Rico, social cost of carbon analysis, and equity analysis within the climate and energy space. Attendees should review the work of the Applied Economics Clinic (here) and come prepared with questions on particular projects or reports.

Dr. Elizabeth A. Stanton is the founder and director of the Applied Economics Clinic. For bio and CV please see:

Energy Bites Seminar May 25, 2023

Thursday, May 25, 2023  |  12PM-1PM

Industrial Decarbonization
Kelly, Vedant, Ali, Ovais, EGG/IDSH

Energy Bites Seminar May 18, 2023

Thursday, May 18, 2023  |  12PM-1PM

Bite 1: Jet Fuels from Biomass
Mark Mascal, EGG/CHE

Bite 2: Optimized Controls for Cooling Dairy Cows
Jonathan Hollist, WCEC

Energy Bites Seminar April 27, 2023

Thursday, April 27, 2023  |  12PM-1PM

Bite 1: Fossil-Free UC/UCD
Stephen Wheeler, EGG/CDGG/Human Ecology

Bite 2: Greenhouse Gas Emission Impacts from Heat Pump Installation over Furnaces in Residential and Office Buildings
Subhrajit Chakraborty, EGG/WCEC

Watch Presentations

Energy Bites Seminar April 20, 2023

April 20, 2023  |  12PM-1PM

Bite 1: Enabling Decarbonization of Buildings through Optimized Control of Electrified Loads
Armando Casillas, LBNL

Bite 2: Digitization and Interoperability for Building Controls and Analytics
Marco Pritoni, LBNL

Watch Presentations