About the Initiative
Developing, sharing, and applying new ways to tackle existing and emerging problems across a broad number of fields, including the environment, engineering, and sustainability, has long been a hallmark of RAND and is integral to the scholarly work at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
A $5 million gift in May 2014 from the late engineer and philanthropist John M. Cazier is now turbocharging research in environmental and energy sustainability at Pardee RAND.
The donation established the John and Carol Cazier Environmental and Energy Sustainability Initiative, which will help generate new concepts, tools, and methods to share findings, ideas, and insights clearly and broadly, so that they can improve public policy, foster better practices in the field, and be applied in the commercial sector to benefit people throughout the world.
For many U.S. homeowners, an investment in rooftop solar is becoming a cost-competitive alternative to purchasing grid electricity. But student Benjamin Smith (cohort '15) and professors Nick Burger and Aimee Curtright note that, as demand soars, states are struggling to adapt a 20th-Century electrical grid to 21st-Century supply and demand, leading to confusion and cost uncertainty.
Pittsburgh is struggling to improve its aging water system. Student Michele Abbott (cohort '14) and alum/professor Jordan Fischbach (cohort '04) review the history and recent developments related to the use of lead pipes and the policy options for lead remediation currently being weighed by local decisionmakers.
Without an aggressive long-term strategy for replacing service lines, and collaboration among the water authority, public officials, and residents, lead in Pittsburgh's water will persist, writes professor (and alum) Jordan Fischbach (cohort '04).
While biomass will almost certainly never become the dominant fuel for the electricity sector in the United States, it is still worth including as part of a menu of greenhouse gas mitigation strategies, write student Sara Turner (cohort '15) and prof. Aimee Curtright.
To maximize the potential benefits of a multibillion-dollar smart grid investment, student Kathleen Loa (cohort '12) and professor Aimee Curtright say a closer examination of technology and policy is needed. First, weigh the preferences and constraints of the various stakeholders and how technology can or cannot meet their objectives.
At a Cazier Initiative symposium, participants scoped important policy questions related to the electric power system. The meeting brought together multiple stakeholder perspectives on the challenges, solutions, and implementation barriers associated with building a more robust, resilient, affordable, and clean grid.
Power grid expert Paul De Martini visited Pardee RAND as the inaugural Cazier Practitioner in Residence. An ICF fellow, and CalTech professor, De Martini presented a seminar on "The Evolving Distribution Grid" and met with Pardee RAND faculty and students during his weeklong stay.
To explore questions confronting the current and future electric power system, Pardee RAND's Cazier Initiative brought together leaders from industry, government, and consumer organizations for an invitation-only symposium.
“I'm truly impressed with the intellectual capacities of Pardee RAND and RAND. I want to ensure that the right bridges get built between the research powerhouses of RAND and Pardee RAND, the commercial world, and the best practitioners in the field.”
— John Cazier
“John Cazier has been an inventor and innovator in automotive engineering,” said Susan Marquis, dean at Pardee RAND, in announcing the Initiative. “We're grateful for John's financial support and his forward thinking on green practices and sustainability.”
Under the initiative—which also honors Cazier's late wife, Carol—the graduate school will bring important visiting fellows to campus and provide valuable research and dissemination tools to students and faculty members. The visiting fellows—some of the best minds and practitioners in their fields—will challenge, inspire, inform, and educate Ph.D. candidates, faculty, RAND researchers, and the RAND community—and it is hoped that being part of the RAND community will broaden the visitors' horizons, too.
The Initiative also provides support to allow faculty, with student assistance, to pursue new work and extend RAND and graduate school research, with a particular emphasis on disseminating this work and getting it into the hands of decisionmakers and practitioners. To have the most impact with the widest possible audiences, the Initiative will underwrite materials that communicate in nontechnical, direct, visual, and simple ways about advances or key policies on the environment, sustainability, engineering, and technology transfer.