Michael Greenstone Joins University of Chicago


September 22, 2014 - Michael Greenstone, an international leader in energy and environmental economics and a faculty director of The E2e Project, recently joined the faculty of the University of Chicago.  His new position as the Milton Friedman Professor of Economics and the Director of the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC) is a return home for Greenstone, who began his teaching career at Chicago as an assistant professor in 2000. Greenstone’s move brings the University of Chicago’s talents and resources to E2e and further enriches E2e’s ability to provide evidence-based research that improves energy efficiency policies.

Prior to rejoining the faculty at Chicago, Greenstone was the 3M Professor of Environmental Economics at MIT. Alongside teaching at MIT, Greenstone was on the EPA Science Advisory Board’s Environmental Economics Advisory Committee. He took a leave of absence from teaching in 2009 to serve as the chief economist for the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisors. Greenstone later directed The Hamilton Project, an economic policy group at the Brookings Institution, and is now an Advisory Council member at Hamilton. Additionally, he is an elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and editor of The Journal of Political Economy.

Energy efficiency is at the center of both energy and climate change policies. Greenstone’s passion to bring data-based evidence to policymakers has its roots in his experience in the policy world. The goal to promote rigorous evaluations of energy efficiency programs is one of the main reasons Greenstone, along with colleagues Christopher Knittel and Catherine Wolfram, helped found The E2e Project in 2013. The three seek to use state-of-the-art, data-driven analytics to bring policymakers evidence on which energy efficiency programs work best and to quantify the energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions attributable to those programs.

In addition to energy efficiency, Greenstone’s research agenda addresses energy and environmental economics more broadly.  With a focus on the costs and benefits of environmental quality and society's energy choices, Greenstone’s research increasingly analyzes developing countries. This work includes an influential paper that demonstrated that high levels of airborne particulates from coal combustion are causing the 500 million residents of Northern China to lose more than 2.5 billion years of life expectancy.  He is also engaged in projects with the Government of India and four Indian state governments that use randomized control trials to test innovative ways to improve the functioning of environmental regulations and increase energy access.

As faculty director of E2e and director of the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago, Greenstone will pursue innovative research to help solve the energy problems in the United States and other countries such as India and China.  “As energy efficiency becomes one of the key tools to combat climate change, it is critical that we invest in and develop those programs that can efficiently deliver the necessary energy and CO2 savings,” said Greenstone.  Greenstone will work closely with faculty at the University of Chicago, MIT, and UC Berkeley to convert the best ideas into policy through The E2e Project.