Projects and Tools

Abt's Environmental Impact: Projects and Tools

tools iconBenefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP)

BenMAP logo

The Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP) is EPA's premier tool for estimating economic benefits associated with air pollution reduction strategies. Extremely flexible in its application, BenMAP can be used for any area and pollutant of interest, and also estimates the health impacts of forecasted temperature increases related to climate change. The database is U.S.-specific, but the software has been applied to several other countries. Abt Associates developed the model and designed and conducted training throughout the U.S. and other countries.

tools iconCo-Benefits Risk Assessment Model (COBRA)

COBRA logo

The Co-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) can be used to assess health benefits of clean energy, energy efficiency, and transportation programs in the U.S. COBRA is a desktop software application that estimates the effect of emissions-reducing policies on air quality (as measured by ambient fine particulate matter, PM2.5) and human health. The scope of the COBRA model can be adjusted to address issues of risk at the county, state, regional, and national levels.

Other Abt Projects

Quantifying the Human Health Benefits of Improved Air Quality for the Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Corridor Project

For the Asian Development Bank, Abt Associates used BenMAP to quantify the human health benefits of improved air quality for the Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Corridor Project in Bangladesh. The analytical components of the project included the quantification of changes in emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, changes in air quality (with a focus on fine particulate matter), changes in health outcomes, and valuation of the avoided cases of morbidity and mortality. Our methodology can be used for estimating co-benefits in Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) for the transport sector.

Analysis and Investment of Low-Emission Growth (AILEG)

In partnership with USAID, Abt Associates is helping governments of developing countries, USAID overseas offices, and the private sector prioritize and implement low-emission growth strategies. Under the Analysis and Investment of Low-Emission Growth (AILEG) project, Abt Associates assists developing countries in conducting economic analyses and selecting investments that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while achieving sustainable growth. This two-year project provides governments and leading economic policy agencies with the best practices in modeling economy-wide and sector-level impacts associated with alternative climate change actions.

International Climate Change Co-Control Benefits Assessment Project

In this project, Abt Associates helped key developing countries quantify the air pollution and health benefits of greenhouse gas mitigation technologies in the energy sector. Abt Associates supported the environmental and health ministries in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and South Korea by developing and implementing air pollution analyses and by training researchers and ministry staff in techniques and approaches used. Improvements in public health from implementing specific climate change policies include both the beneficial health impacts of immediate reductions in ambient air pollution levels as well as the additional health benefits from improvements in long-term air pollution exposure.

Developing a Framework for Evaluating the GHG Impacts of Regulatory Actions

In work done for EPA, Abt Associates developed a framework for assessing the reductions (or increases) of greenhouse gases that are expected to result from environmental and other regulations whose focus is not necessarily carbon emissions and climate change. We applied the framework to several recent regulations and projected GHG emissions impacts through 2020. These estimates were calculated using different estimates of the social cost of carbon identified from a review of current peer-reviewed literature corresponding to different social discount rates.

Uncertainty/Sensitivity Analysis for the PM-Premature Mortality Relationship

In this project, Abt Associates developed a method to analyze and compare several sources of uncertainty in the relationship between particulate matter air pollution and premature mortality, a key component of air pollution benefits analyses, and then implemented that method. The goal of the project was to assess the relative impacts of the uncertainty surrounding several different uncertain analysis inputs on the resulting estimate of monetized benefit, and on the uncertainty about that estimate. This type of analysis is valuable for prioritizing the sources of uncertainty in terms of the need for further research.

Development of Energy Input-Output Calculator

For the U.S. Department of Energy, Abt Associates built an “Energy I-O Calculator” that estimates the economic effects of energy technology investments that are supported by DOE or other entities, such as state governments. We developed an approach whereby a user-defined schedule of electricity generation technology investments is converted into a consistent specification of direct economic effects related to the construction and operation of the technology. These effects are then fed through an input-output framework to estimate national-level impacts in the U.S. The model provides a robust and consistent analytic framework for estimating 1) economic output effects, by economic sector, 2) employee earnings effects, by economic sector; and, 3) job and occupational effects associated with changes in earnings. Model outputs are also reported separately for direct, indirect, and induced economic effects. Default technology cost and performance parameters as well as other key data inputs to the model can be customized by the user. Overall, our approach enables rigorous analyses of the economic effects of energy technology investments, while accounting for inter-industry linkages throughout the U.S. economy. The calculator was built in a web environment so that analysts from DOE and other organizations can readily perform economic impact analyses using a rigorous and consistent analytic system.

Carbon Emissions Economic Intensity Index (CEEII): Analyzing State Level Carbon Emissions and Carbon Emissions Economic Intensity

Since 2003, Abt Associates has developed and maintained the Carbon Emissions Economic Intensity Index framework, a state-level analytic framework and database that calculates and measures carbon emissions in relation to the value of the activities that generate the emissions in the U.S. The CEEII provides insight into the factors that contribute to (1) changes in carbon emissions economic intensity over time and (2) differences across states. The CEEII disaggregates emissions and activity by key energy-using sectors, and calculates various measures of carbon emissions intensity for those sectors. The CEEII also assesses the macro-factors (economic structure, energy efficiency, fuel mix) that influence emissions change over time, and can aid in evaluating the effectiveness of government programs – such as energy efficiency, renewables, and clean energy programs – that affect carbon emissions. We have used the framework to analyze the change in carbon emissions and carbon emissions intensity for a wide range of states, and to assess the role of energy efficiency and other programs in those states in influencing carbon emissions and carbon emissions intensity.

Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Economic Sectors

Abt Associates developed and implemented novel analytical techniques to assess the impacts that the activities of individual sectors of the economy are having on climate change—and, conversely, the potential economic impacts that climate legislation could have on these sectors. Using our TEAM input-output model, along with other models, Abt Associates assessed the direct greenhouse gas emissions of individual industry sectors, and the indirect emissions that occur throughout these industries’ supply chains. Using the outputs from the models, we evaluated the potential economic implications for each industry sector of the incremental costs due to the sector’s direct greenhouse gas emissions and costs that may be passed on to the sector from upstream suppliers under a cap-and-trade, carbon tax, or other similar programs.

Dynamic Systems Analysis of Climate Change Policies

Abt Associates developed industry- and region-specific simulation models that contain dynamic descriptions of industrial behavior and explicitly capture industrial ability to respond to changes in their regulatory and economic environment. Models of the pulp and paper, iron and steel, cement, and ethylene industries were developed to enable an analysis of the response of industrial systems to varied climate change policy and program initiatives. The models directly incorporate investment decisions, vintage structure of the capital stock, physical material and energy flows, as well as production decisions. In addition, the models explicitly capture fuel and material switching. The overall method is based on a combination of material/energy flow analysis, linked to capital vintage accounting and system dynamics, creating descriptions of alternative futures using a system of non-linear differential equations.

Measuring and Reducing GHG Emissions in the Construction Industry

Abt Associates researched and quantified the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the construction sector of the U.S. economy. We presented historic GHG emissions estimates for the sector, and combined these estimates with subsector-level economic data to produce emissions-intensity estimates for each subsector (e.g., highway construction, residential buildings, site preparation). This allowed for emissions comparisons among subsectors to better identify opportunities for reductions. Additional analysis examined the individual sources of GHG emissions, and identified practical opportunities for emissions reductions. We also developed a tool to supplement the published analysis that enables individual construction companies to estimate their carbon footprint.