Environmental Justice and Climate, Air Pollution, and Economic Decisions in the U.S. Power Sector

October 15, 2021
Ines Azevedo, Associate Professor of Energy Resources Engineering, Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy
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Electricity generation is a large contributor to PM2.5 air pollution. However, the demographic distribution of its resulting exposure is largely unknown. We estimate the health effects from air pollution from electricity generation in the US, for each of the seven Regional Transmission Organizations, for each US state, by income and by race. Exposures are higher for lower-income than for higher-income, but disparities are larger by race than by income. Geographically, we observe large differences between where electricity is generated and where people experience the resulting air pollution health consequences: for 36 US states, most of the health impacts are attributable to emissions in other states. Then, we discuss the issue of improved air quality and human health, which are often discussed as “co-benefits” of mitigating climate change, yet they are rarely considered when designing or implementing climate policies. We have developed and implemented a model that optimizes emissions reductions costs from the U.S. power sector for climate and health benefits under retirements and new plant construction decisions. We determine the best locations for replacing power plants with new wind, solar, or natural gas to meet a CO2 reduction target in the United States. We employ a capacity expansion model with integrated assessment of climate and health damages, comparing portfolios optimized for benefits to climate alone or both health and climate. The model estimates county-level health damages and accounts for uncertainty by using a range of air quality models (AP3, EASIUR, and InMAP) and concentration−response functions (American Cancer Society and Harvard Six Cities). We find that reducing CO2 by 30% yields $21−68 billion in annual health benefits, with an additional $9−36 billion possible when co-optimizing for climate and health benefits. Total health benefits equal or exceed climate benefits across a wide range of modeling assumptions. Our results demonstrate the value of considering health in climate policy design and the need for interstate cooperation to achieve additional health benefits equitably.

The Energy Equity Gap: Unveiling Hidden Energy Poverty

October 1, 2021 | 10:30am to 11:50am PST
Destenie Nock, Assistant Professor, Engineering and Public Policy, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
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Income-based energy poverty metrics miss people’s behavior patterns, particularly those who reduce their energy consumption to limit financial stress. Using a residential electricity consumption dataset, we determine the outdoor temperature at which households start using home cooling systems. Using this inflection temperature, we calculate the relative energy poverty within a region, which we define as the energy equity gap. In our study region, we find that the energy equity gap between low and high-income groups ranges from 4.7°F to 7.5°F. In 2015-2016, within our population of 4,577 households, we found 86 energy-poor and 214 energy-insecure, meaning they are at risk of heat-related illness and death. In contrast, the traditional income-based energy poverty metric identified just 141 households as energy insecure. Only three households were defined as energy-poor or energy-insecure by both our temperature-based measure and the traditional income-based measure. This minimal overlap shows the value of considering consumer behavior when identifying energy poverty and energy insecurity.

Affordable Housing: An Immersive Energy Literacy Environment

September 24, 2021 10:30am to 11:50am PST
Freddy Paige, Assistant Director, Virginia Center for Housing Research, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech
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Please join in on a conversation about how to discuss energy in an inclusive manner. By design, affordable energy efficient homes can be powerful influencers of Energy Literacy. A limiting factor in a person’s ability to understand energy is energy’s varying form and sometimes invisible presence. The specific Energy Literacy concepts discussed in this conversation will be: human use of energy is subject to limits and constraints, conservation is one way to manage energy resources, electricity is generated in multiple ways, social and technological innovations impact the amount of energy used by society, and energy use can be calculated and monitored. By using immersive technologies, virtual reality, and augmented reality, we have an opportunity to share energy literacy lessons with people even if they do not live in an energy efficient home, YET.

Global Energy Manager’s Workshop 2021 (Online)

On October 19-20, 2021, UC Davis will host the third Global Energy Managers Workshop, where facility managers, students, and faculty from around the world will meet to share and learn about energy-saving, cost management, and carbon reduction strategies.

This year’s event will be online via Zoom. We have an exciting agenda and hope you can participate.

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Evaluating Water Loss Performance Standards – An Economic Leak Loss Reduction Model

Tuesday, August 24 from 10am to 11:30am PST

The UC Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency (CWEE) developed an economic optimal leak loss model and performed a study using water utility data from four different states to evaluate the results of the CWEE model and others* (including the State Water Board’s current model). CWEE recently performed a similar assessment tailored for California by comparing economic models using California utility data only. Attend this public webinar to learn about the UC Davis Economic Optimum model and how it compares to the proposed California model.

The purpose of this webinar is to inform stakeholders in the water loss space about the findings of CWEE’s research. This topic is relevant to California utilities and policy makers and will provide data driven science for stakeholders to consider during the upcoming Water Loss Performance Standards rulemaking by the SWRCB. This webinar will be followed up by 1-2 shorter webinars open to the public to provide more in-depth question and answer sessions. Timing currently TBD.

* This work is currently in the peer-reviewed publication process. Learn more about the study and review a related publication here.

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Greening Cement: A Primer on Technologies and Policies to Support California’s Transition to Low-GHG Cement

Thursday, August 26 from 11am to 12pm PST

As California and the nation push towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, cement production has emerged as an area of critical importance. Reducing GHG emissions from cement production is complex due to the ways that cement is produced, and the need for cement to support critical civil infrastructure systems over lifespans measured in decades. At UC Davis, there is ongoing research examining technology and policy drivers to mitigate these GHG emissions while maintaining performance.

In this special webinar, UC Davis faculty will discuss recent developments in sustainable cement, including critical technologies, performance considerations, policy structures, and the importance of stakeholder coordination. A panel of experts in the field will provide feedback and context. There will be time for discussion and Q&As so please bring your experiences and questions to share.

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image of large black pipes and machinery to move them.

The Big Shift: Lessons Learned in Converting UC Davis Buildings from Steam to Hot Water

Thursday, June 17th from 11am to 12pm PST

The Big Shift is a transformative infrastructure project taking place on the UC Davis campus where building heating systems are being converted from steam heat that is generated by natural gas to hot water that is generated by electricity. The Big Shift will help the university achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by reducing reliance on fossil fuel.

In this special GEM webinar, UC Davis staff and partners will candidly discuss the project to date and lessons learned, including critical design considerations and the importance of stakeholder coordination. There will be plenty of time for discussion and Q&As so please bring your experiences and questions to share.
Webinar Sponsor: Siemens
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Energy Bites – May 28, 2021

Bite 1: Linear LED Retrofit Solutions Now Part of the ‘Million LED Challenge’ Program
Nicole Hathaway, California Lighting Technology Center
Bite 2: Integrated Building Control Systems Laboratory Evaluation
Tristan Bond, California Lighting Technology Center
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Energy Bites – May 21, 2021

Bite 1: Equity Mapping Utlity-Scale Renewable Portfolio Standard Energy Facilities
Ingrid Behrsin, Public Scholarship & Engagement
Johanna Heyer, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Bite 2: Automated Emissions Reduction: Bringing Emissions Aware Controls to Smart Devices
Henry Richardson, WattTimeTime: 12pm to 1pm
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Energy Bites – May 14, 2021

Bite 1: Developer and Resident Experience with Electrification of Affordable Housing
Ashley DePew, Energy Graduate Group/Energy and Efficiency Institute
Eli Alston-Stepnitz, Department of Sociology
Bite 2: Home Occupancy Detection and Electricity Response to Heat Waves
Jon Martindill, Energy Graduate Group/Center for Water-Energy Efficiency
Time: 12pm to 1pm
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