EPP News Updates

News Updates - 2015

EPP study finds Chinese consumers may adopt electric vehicles first
Feb 2015

A new study by EPP researchers finds that mainstream Chinese car buyers are more willing to adopt pure electric vehicles than American consumers. EPP professors Jeremy Michalek and Erica Fuchs, Ph.D. student John Helveston, and their co-authors surveyed automobile consumers in China and the U.S. to understand their preferences and willingness to pay for vehicle attributes. The research team asked prospective car buyers in China and the U.S. to choose among gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric vehicles with varying range, performance, cost, brand, styling and recharging capabilities. Using statistical methods to infer which attributes were driving their choices, they found that, on average, American consumers are only willing to purchase a pure electric vehicle if it costs $10,000 to $20,000 less than an otherwise equivalent gasoline vehicle, depending on its range and recharging capabilities. In contrast, they found a smaller average disparity for Chinese consumers, who are willing to pay even more for pure electric vehicles if they have sufficient range and recharging capabilities. Both countries offer similar subsidies for plug-in vehicles, with the largest subsidies reserved for vehicles with large batteries, like pure electric vehicles. The study was recently published in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.
Read the full paper: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965856415000038

Exporting liquefied natural gas can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but U.S. accrues social cost
Feb 2015

A research team including Engineering and Public Policy PhD student Leslie Abrahams, and professors, Mike Griffin, and Scott Matthews found exporting liquefied natural gas from the U.S. can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions when substituting for coal or Russian natural gas abroad. However, while global emissions are reduced, emissions within the U.S. increase. Therefore, the U.S. incurs a social cost from exporting the natural gas. This social cost, along with other local environmental and social impacts from natural gas development, is important for the Department of Energy to consider when determining whether exporting LNG is in the public interest.

Michalek's study featured in Science: Electric vehicle range, emissions worse in extreme weather regions
Feb 2015

Researchers have found that electric vehicles have shorter range and more emissions in regions with extreme weather.  Mechanical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy Professor Jeremy Michalek and mechanical engineering graduate student Tugce Yuksel used data from Nissan Leaf drivers and weather reports to analyze the regional effect of air temperature on the range, energy consumption and emissions of electric vehicles.  "We found that average electric vehicle range in some regions can drop from a rated 75 miles to just 45 miles on the hottest or coldest days of the year," Yuksel said.  According to the study, electric vehicles consume more energy in extreme weather for two primary reasons: heating or cooling the passenger cabin drains energy from the battery, and batteries also are less efficient when cold.

EPP undergrad Dolly Hsu honored at Engineers' Society of Western PA awards banquet
Feb 2015

EPP undergrad Dolly Hsu was awarded with the 2015 George Washington Prize for outstanding achievement at the Annual Engineering Awards Banquet held at the Engineers' Society of Western PA. 

Cranor speaks at White House Summit on Cybersecurity
Feb 2015

EPP professor Lorrie Faith Cranor spoke at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection on February 13th. Her talk, entitled, "Improving Authentification: Moving Beyond the Password," discussed how new methods of cyberauthentification can potentially improve security.   

Faculty named world's most influential by Thomson Reuters
Feb 2015

Thomson Reuters, the "leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals," has published, "The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014." The report identifies the top 3,200 most highly cited researchers across 21 fields over a period of 10 years. Seven Carnegie Mellon faculty members were named in this elite group. Among them were EPP professors Neil Donahue and Spyros Pandis.

Azevedo serving on ERL board
Feb 2015

EPP professor Inês Azevedo has been invited to serve as a part of the editorial board member for Environmental Research Letters (ERL).  She began her term in January and will sit on the board for two years.  http://tinyurl.com/o3l4a5j

Min asks,"Should we be concerned that more efficient lights increase our furnace consumption?"
Feb 2015

Some people could be concerned that replacing incandescent bulbs with more efficient ones would lead to more consumption from the furnace or boiler to heat the rooms during cold weather. This would be because incandescent light lights release a lot of the energy they consume as heat: this is called a "heat replacement effect”. EPP postdoctoral fellow Jihoon Min, professor Inês Azevedo, and Pekka Hakkarainen, vice president of Lutron Electronics, have estimated this effect for different regions of the country, and find that in most cases, this effect is not strong enough to offset the whole energy or carbon savings one gets from using more efficient lights. Indeed, they conclude that  in almost all regions in the U.S., installing CFLs or LEDs will still make you save energy, carbon, and money even after his heat replacement effect is taken into account. http://tinyurl.com/muv639h

Han discusses research
Feb 2015

EPP doctoral student Qiwei Han’s research was recently featured as part of INI’s 25th anniversary.  His research focus is on the impact of social influence on consumer behavior in large-scale information and communication networks.  http://tinyurl.com/qbo7729

Cranor elected ACM fellow
Feb 2015

EPP professor Lorrie Cranor has been named a 2014 Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow. She is being recognized for her contributions to research and education in usable privacy and security.

Cranor Mentioned in WSJ blog
Feb 2015

EPP professor Lorrie Cranor is mentioned in an article in the Wall Street Journal online on the privacy and security risks posed by our ever-growing interconnectedness. Her research showed that it takes 10 minutes to read a densely-worded privacy policy.

Fischhoff discusses how scientists can effectively communicate their work
Feb 2015

EPP professor Baruch Fischhoff wrote an article for SciDev.Net on how scientists can effectively communicate their work. Fischhoff wrote that the key is listening. Read “Four Steps For Effective Science Communication.”

Assistant professor Paulina Jaramillo discusses her research
Feb 2015

Assistant Professor of Engineering and Public Policy Paulina Jaramillo discusses her research on how to provide energy access in a sustainable way to people in the developing world. Over 1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean and reliable source of energy. Meeting the energy needs of these people in a climate constrained world will be a major challenge in the coming decades. Through their research, Dr. Jaramillo and the PhD students in her research group hope to identify pathways for sustainable energy access.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqdbPXK01eM

CIT research team receives NSF RIPS grant to study climate change impacts on critical infrastructure
Feb 2015

A CIT research team, including EPP researchers Paulina Jaramillo, Baruch Fischhoff, Haibo Zhai, Gabriela Hug, Gabrielle-Wong Parodi, and Kelly Klima recently received a $1.4 million Resilient Infrastructure Systems and Processes (RIPS)grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the climate-induced risks to water and power infrastructure in the Southeast United States.  http://tinyurl.com/nn39ca6

Azevedo featured in new Scotty video
Feb 2015

EPP professor Inês Azevedo along with a research team that includes EPP alum Kyle Siler-Evans, and EPP professors Granger Morgan, and Jay Apt, provide the answer to the question: "Are you REALLY saving the environment investing in a wind farm or solar power plant?" in the newest Scotty video.    

Small honored by ASCE
Feb 2015

American Society of Civil Engineers - Pittsburgh Section has named EPP professor Mitch Small ASCE Pittsburgh Section Professor of the Year.   This honor is given for demonstrating outstanding teaching ability and contribution to professional guidance and development of students and young men and women in formative stage of their career. 

Tarr compares Westinghouse and Marcellus
Feb 2015

EPP professor Joel Tarr wrote an article for New America on the Pittsburgh region’s historical identification with energy resources and environmental degradation and what that means for the future. Tarr, the Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History and Policy, wrote, "Does the history of energy development in the state have any implications for the present natural gas boom? I believe that there are a number of analogies between then and now that are worth exploring. The echo between past and present shows that concerns about the environmental impacts of natural gas development today could have been anticipated by looking at Pittsburgh’s history." Learning from Pittsburgh’s Energy History from Westinghouse to Marcellus."

Cranor asks, "What does privacy look like?"
Feb 2015

EPP professor Lorrie Cranor has explored the meaning of privacy by asking people to draw pictures.  The project, Privacy Illustrated, has amassed hundreds of drawings thus far, from participants ranging in age from 5 to 91. And Cranor invites anyone to contribute to the project by making a drawing of what privacy means to them and uploading it to the project website.


Michalek quoted in wired.com article
Feb 2015

EPP professor Jeremy Michalek was quoted in an article on wired.com about mainstream electric cars, entitled, "Chevy Could Beat Tesla to Building the First Mainstream Electric Car." "Small changes to things like cell design, materials, and chemistry," Michalek says, "along with mass production, can drive down cost, within limits."  http://www.wired.com/2015/01/chevrolet-bolt-ev/


EPP researchers discuss building codes
Feb 2015

Ph.D. researcher Nathaniel Gilbraith and EPP faculty members Inês L. Azevedo and Paulina Jaramillo recently evaluated the energy and emissions savings benefits of more stringent building energy codes that improve building energy efficiency. Their analysis indicates that more stringent building energy codes can provide hundreds of millions of dollars in human, environmental, and climate benefits, but only if individual states adopt these codes. The work appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.