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Saving Time and Making Cents: A Blueprint for Building Transit Better

July 29, 2021

Cities, states, and metropolitan areas across the United States are looking to invest in a range of public transit projects in order to connect people to jobs and economic opportunity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and shape development patterns.  According to one estimate, the United States invested about $50 billion in new transit projects in just the last decade.1 These include underground subways in Los Angeles, commuter rail lines along the Front Range near Denver, a streetcar in downtown Atlanta, light rail lines in suburban Phoenix, and bus rapid transit in Richmond, Virginia, among many others.While these projects are as diverse as the country itself, they all have one thing in common: increased scrutiny over their costs and timelines to build. A few very visible projects have reinforced the narrative that rail transit investments have systemic issues that are endemic to the United States.This all begs the questions: Is this true? If so, why? And what should we do about it?These are precisely the questions Eno set out to answer through this research, policy, and communications project to analyze current and historical trends in public transit project delivery. We convened a set of advisors and conducted in-depth interviews with key stakeholders to understand the drivers behind mass transit construction, cost, and delivery in the United States. A comprehensive database of rail transit projects was created and curated to compare costs and timelines among U.S. cities and peer metropolitan areas in Western Europe and Canada. Through this quantitative and qualitative approach, we developed actionable recommendations for policy changes at all levels of government as well as best practices for the public and private sectors.

Field Notes: Equity & State Climate Policy

September 5, 2019

For more than a decade, states and cities across the country have served a leadership role in advancing science-informed climate policy through city, state and multi-state efforts. The rapid pace by which state climate policy is emerging is evidenced by the number of new laws, directives and policies adopted in 2018 and the first half of 2019 alone. Currently, there is an active ongoing dialogue across the U.S. regarding the intersection of climate and equity objectives with efforts targeted at addressing needs of disadvantaged communities and consumers. This climate/equity intersection is due to several factors, including recognition by many cities and states that climate change is and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations and will exacerbate existing stressors faced by disadvantaged communities and consumers. Research indicates that a greater proportion of environmental burden exists in geographic areas with majority populations of people of color, low-income residents, and/or indigenous people. It is well known that certain households (including some that are low-income, African American, Latino, multi-family and rural) spend a larger portion on their income on home energy costs. States and stakeholders are realizing that a transition to a low-carbon future by mid-century will require significantly increased participation of disadvantaged communities and households in the benefits of climate and clean energy programs.

Energy Storage: The New Efficiency

April 19, 2019

This report, which describes how states can use energy efficiency funds to provide incentives for energy storage, is a publication of Clean energy group (CEG), with appendices containing several white papers prepared by the applied economics Clinic under contract to CEG. This report explains the steps Massachusetts took to become the first state to integrate energy storage technologies into its energy efficiency plan, including actions to 1) expand the goals and definition of energy efficiency to include peak demand reduction, and 2) show that customer-sited battery storage can pass the required cost-effectiveness test. The report summarizes the economics of battery cost/benefit calculations, examines key elements of incentive design, and shows how battery storage would have been found to be even more cost-effective had the non-energy benefits of batteries been included in the calculations. The report also introduces seven non-energy benefits of batteries, and for the first time, assigns values to them. Finally, the report provides recommendations to other states for how to incentivize energy storage within their own energy efficiency plans. Four appendices provide detailed economics analysis, along with recommendations to Massachusetts on improving its demand reduction incentive program in future iterations of the energy efficiency plan.

Massachusetts Battery Storage Measures: Benefits and Costs

July 1, 2018

This Applied Economic Clinic white paper provides the calculations and assumptions necessary to estimate complete 2019 benefit-cost ratios for battery storage measures in Massachusetts, using a methodology identical to that of the program administrator's own "BCR Model" spreadsheets for the 2019-2021 and previous three-year efficiency plans. The resulting Massachusetts benefit-cost ratios for battery storage in 2019 are:2.8 for a single-family home battery under the low-income efficiency program3.4 for a multi-family apartment complex battery under the commercial and industrial efficiency programsThe benefits of electric battery storage outweigh their costs, and, therefore, must be offered by Massachusetts electric program administrators to their customers, in accordance with the Green Communities Act. This white paper reviews the calculation of a value for battery storage of the cost and each type of benefit included in Massachusetts' cost-effectiveness assessment: avoided energy, avoided energy demand reduction induced price effects (DRIPE), summer generation capacity, winter generation capacity, electric capacity DRIPE, transmission, distribution, and reliability, non-energy benefits, and non-embedded environmental costs. Of these benefits, avoided capacity costs are by far the most substantial.

Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2016

June 30, 2016

Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2016 provides a window into how the global transition toward clean energy is playing out in the U.S. electric power sector. Specifically, it reveals the extent to which 30 of the largest U.S. investor-owned electric utility holding companies are increasingly deploying clean energy resources to meet customer needs.Benchmarking these companies provides an opportunity for transparent reporting and analysis of important industry trends. It fills a knowledge gap by offering utilities, regulators, investors, policymakers and other stakeholders consistent and comparable information on which to base their decisions. And it provides perspective on which utilities are best positioned in a shifting policy landscape, including likely implementation of the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing carbon pollution from power plants.

The Economic Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States

November 15, 2011

Assesses outcomes of the first U.S. market-based program to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, including impact on electricity markets, power companies' costs, and consumer prices; use of auction proceeds; and states' economic benefits.

Green Revolving Funds in Action: California Institute of Technology

July 25, 2011

Presents a case study of the California Institute of Technology's use of green revolving funds to finance energy efficiency upgrades. Outlines the GRF's incorporation into an existing endowment fund, operations, and performance as well as lessons learned.

Forest Sustainability in the Development of Wood Bioenergy in the U.S.

July 22, 2010

Presents considerations for forest sustainability in biofuels production: biomass supply estimates, sustainability standards, biomass energy options, and federal and state policy alignment. Calls for clear sustainable harvesting and conservation policies.

Wood Products and Carbon Storage: Can Increased Production Help Solve the Climate Crisis?

April 14, 2009

This report draws on a variety of sources to illuminate the greenhouse gas impacts of wood products and wood biomass fuels throughout their life-cycles. While detailed analyses are rare, the picture is complete enough to show the variability of the processing path followed by different types of trees in various parts of the country. Taking the entire life-cycle of these products into account, it becomes clear that an increased use of wood fuels and lumber will have very little net effect on climate change. To the contrary, the impact is as likely to be negative as positive.The report also takes a closer look at the use of forest-carbon offsets in voluntary or regulatory programs. Because such offsets are expected to balance emissions from other sources, it is important that the additional carbon sequestration be real. This document outlines several criteria for carbon offset standards to account for the full effects of harvested wood carbon.

State of the World 2005: Redefining Global Security

January 1, 2005

Security concerns remain high on the world's agenda. In this year's annual report, Worldwatch researchers explore underlying sources of global insecurity including poverty, infectious disease, environmental degradation, and rising competition over oil and other resources. Find out why terrorism is just symptomatic of a far broader set of complex problems that require more than a military response.

Coming of Age in Boston: Out-of-School Time Opportunities for Teens

April 1, 2004

Synthesizes findings from interviews, surveys, a literature review, and new research on current out-of-school time programs, what teens need and seek, and elements of effective programs. Includes a case study of environmental youth development programs.

State of the World 2004: Special Focus The Consumer Society

January 1, 2004

A Bangladeshi child eats a bowl of rice. An American child plays with a plastic doll. A woman in Finland talks on a cell phone. A man in Zimbabwe fills his car with gasoline. A Japanese woman reads a newspaper. Think of the objects you buy and use in any given day. Now, try to imagine that there are more than 1.7 billion human beings in the consumer society -- and their numbers are growing yearly. In many cases, excessive consumption burdens societies with bulging landfills, declining fish stocks, and rising obesity levels. Meanwhile, there are still another 2.8 billion who consume too little and who suffer from hunger, homelessness, and poverty. On the Worldwatch Institute's thirtieth anniversary, this special edition of State of the World examines how we consume, why we consume, and what impact our consumption choices have on the planet and our fellow human beings. From factory-farmed chicken to old-growth lumber to gas-guzzling cars, many of the things we buy support destructive industries. But businesses, governments, and concerned citizens can harness this same purchasing power to build markets for less-hazardous products, including fair-traded foods, green power, and fuel-cell vehicles. With chapters on food, water, energy, the politics of consumption, and redefining the good life, Worldwatch's award-winning research team asks whether a less-consumptive society is possible -- and then argues that it is essential.