Carnegie Mellon University

Tools for Policy Analysis

In addition to its problem-focused research, the Department has long been involved in the development of advanced software tools to support quantitative policy analysis. Particularly important has been the development of the Demos system (now commercially distributed as AnalyticaTM), which is designed to support the easy incorporation and analysis of uncertainty in policy analysis. In the context of integrated environmental control processes and large-scale chemical plants, EPP researchers have developed generalized system analysis tools around the ASPEN simulator, which is used in chemical facilities all over the world.

In June 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a Clean Power Plan under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act for the state-level regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from existing electric generating plants. The proposal, which will be finalized this mid-summer, sets state-specific goals for CO2 emissions, but provides each state with flexibility to choose how to meet its goal.

ISOMAP allows users to evaluate a range of plant-specific technical options that will reduce CO2 emissions from each major U.S. coal-fired power plant.  As the EPA modifies their ruling, the CMU research team will update the tool to meet the new requirements. Read the news release or download ISOMAP.

PHORUM is a light-weight, transparent simulation tool for academia, industry, and government that allows researchers to investigate how changes to PJM will affect generators, electricity prices, emissions, and human health.

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PowerOptInvest is an investment decision model that determines the least cost investment and operating strategies for electric power generation facilities. The Utility Investment Data Tool is software that is used to enter data into PowerOptInvest.

This inventory provides global fossil fuel fugitive methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6) emissions estimates including uncertainties using best available knowledge of emissions factors and fuel production data at the country and regional level. The inventory can be used as Bayesian a priori estimates in top-down modeling to further reduce emissions uncertainty constrained by global atmospheric CH4 and C2H6 measurements.

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The downloadable excel spreadsheet provides the marginal emissions factors estimated as part of the work published in "Siler-Evans. K., Azevedo, I.L., Morgan, M.G., (2012). Marginal emissions factors for the US  electricity systemEnvironmental Science & Technology, 46 (9), pp. 4742–4748." Marginal emissions factors (MEFs) from 2006 through 2011 were estimated by Kyle Siler-Evans using data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Continuous Emissions Monitoring System(CEMS).

The data repository includes full results for the health, environmental, and climate benefits of wind and solar generation, as published in "Siler-Evans. K., Azevedo, I.L., Morgan, M.G., Apt, J. (2013). Regional variations in the health, environmental, and climate benefits of wind and solar generationProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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This tool consists of two distinct sets of material, a combination of which allow the user to become more informed on available Low-Carbon Technologies and explore the outcomes of energy generation policy decisions on environmental conditions.

The initial segment of materials presented is designed to convey basic information on available generation technologies and their relative impacts. The second segment is an Excel-based toolthat allows users to build their own power plant combination to supply additional capacity needed in Pennsylvania over the next 25 years, assuming a congressionally-mandated carbon constraint.

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This model allows exploration of international policies related to nuclear power, and the economic and environmental consequences which could result from a reevaluation of those policies. Some of the consequences considered include reliability of the electricity supply, electricity costs, air pollution levels, carbon emission levels, and impact on fossil fuel reliance.

Read more about the Impact of Nuclear Shutdowns model >>

This water quality reuse classification tool is designed to facilitate decision making regarding human water uses. The focus of the tool is to assist utilities, industries, and governments in determining whether a process effluent is of acceptable quality for the influent of another process. By ranking water quality required for various types of reuse in a tabular format, utility managers, industrial operators, and government officials can propose application effluents as potential influents for other activities and evaluate the feasibility of specific couplings.

Read more about the Water Quality Reuse Classification tool >>

This is a website designed to help guide wise decision making about climate change adaptation, with a focus on natural resource contexts. On the site you will find information to help guide good processes for tough decisions about climate adaptation concepts. The ultimate goal of the website is to provide information and examples to show how structured decision making can help guide the thinking and actions of decision makers who deal with climate change adaptation decisions.

View the Climate Change Decisions tool. is an online resource designed for people to share and evaluate the economic and environmental effects of new energy technologies, business plans, R&D programs, and public policies. is similar to Wikipedia in that anyone can browse and contribute content. Unlike Wikipedia, contributing users are publicly identified to give credit where due, and avoid anonymous destructive contributions. Contributors are encouraged to rate and review each other’s estimates, but cannot edit or delete contributions by others (unless they are granted explicit permission). 

Click here for more information on MegaJoule >>

IECM is a computer-modeling program that performs a systematic cost and performance analyses of emission control equipment at coal-fired power plants. It is intended for use by engineers, policy makers, and researchers for preliminary design and analysis of electricity generation options. The IECM allows the user to configure the plant to be modeled from a variety of pollutant control technologies.

You can learn more about this tool and download it here.

The Estimating Air pollution Social Impact Using Regression (EASIUR) model is an easy-to-use tool estimating the social cost of air quality in the United States. 

Click here for more information about this tool.