Funding opp: Drivers and Environmental Impacts of Energy Transitions in Underserved Communities

Applications due: Apr 28, 2022
For more information and to apply.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications proposing community-engaged research that will address the drivers and environmental impacts of energy transitions in underserved communities. For purposes of this competition and the evaluation of applications, “underserved communities” refers to populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life, including people of color, low income, rural, tribal, indigenous, and other populations that may be disproportionately impacted by environmental harms and risks.

Applicants for regular awards should address at least two of the five research areas described below; and early career applicants should address at least one of the five research areas. Applications not addressing the minimum number of research areas may not be rated as highly as those that do. Applications should clearly indicate which research area(s) the application is addressing. Applications addressing more research areas will not necessarily be rated more highly than those that address fewer research areas.

Applicants for regular awards are strongly encouraged to approach the research areas from a multi-disciplinary perspective (e.g., including both social and natural science disciplines).
While the proposed research may focus on a specific geographic (e.g., rural and urban areas), socioeconomic, demographic, governmental (e.g., tribal), or other contexts, and recognizing that each community may have its unique set of contexts, research addressing how the results could be applied or generalized to other locations, demographic groups, etc., or linked to broader theoretical frameworks is encouraged.

In addressing each of the research areas below, applicants are strongly encouraged to consider the resiliency of future energy systems, impacted communities and/or tribes, and policy frameworks. Resiliency is the capacity to adapt to and to recover from unexpected and changing conditions or a range of shocks and stresses. Applicants are encouraged to consider how energy system transformations affect the resiliency of systems that produce and consume energy and the resiliency of populations and ecosystems with respect to public health and environmental risks, including risks that are anticipated to increase due to climate change.

Research areas

  1. How might air quality, the environment, and public health in underserved communities be improved through the large-scale transformation of the energy sector (e.g., wide-spread adoption of renewable energy sources and energy efficient technologies, electrification of transportation services, and household energy use) while minimizing potential negative impacts (e.g., from disuse or abandonment of obsolete fossil energy infrastructure)? How can existing or new data sources and methods be used to measure impacts and track progress?
  2. What approaches or strategies can be employed during and after energy transitions to meet the goals of improving air quality and reducing other environmental health burdens while meeting the energy and mobility needs of underserved communities? How do these approaches impact air quality and health burdens over time as the energy system evolves? How can existing or new data sources and methods be used to measure progress towards these goals?
  3. How do socioeconomic, cultural, behavioral, institutional, and systems factors drive individual and household decisions regarding the adoption of renewable energy sources, energy-efficient technologies and building modifications, and new transportation modes in underserved communities? What are the barriers and enablers of adoption? How do behavioral responses influence the effectiveness of strategies and policies aimed at achieving energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals?
  4. How do socioeconomic, organizational, and institutional factors affect decisions at the organizational, governmental and community levels regarding the adoption and diffusion of renewable energy sources, energy-efficient technologies, building modifications, and new transportation modes in underserved communities?
  5. What multi-pollutant and/or multi-sectoral approaches could be effective at the community, state, or national level in achieving climate, air quality, and other environmental goals in ways that maximize potential positive impacts and minimize potential negative impacts to underserved communities arising from such large-scale transformation? How can existing or new data sources and methods be used to measure these goals?

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