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An aerial view of the campus facing northwest with downtown Chicago in the background. (Photo by Tom Rossiter/The University of Chicago)
About Epic

The Challenge

To meet the global energy challenge, humanity must address the need for reliable, affordable energy to foster economic growth while averting climate change and damages to the environment.

Confronting the Global Energy Challenge

Energy powers the modern world, fueling innovation and improving people’s lives. But humanity’s energy usage is also generating levels of pollution that are substantially shortening people’s lives and causing disruptive climate change. Finding a way to supply the energy needed for human development without risking health or the environment is one of the most important challenges the world faces: the global energy challenge. EPIC is taking on this challenge by uncovering the true costs of the world’s energy choices through data-driven research. EPIC converts this research into real-world action through targeted outreach, ensuring that policymakers, businesses, and members of the public have the information they need to understand the effect of their choices on the energy system, and to help them make better ones. EPIC also plays a vital role in training the next generation of global leaders to think critically and comprehensively about energy issues and to recognize and develop solutions that work.

Data-Driven Research for Lasting Impact

EPIC acts as an interdisciplinary hub for energy and environmental research across the University of Chicago. Combining the insights of economists, policy analysts and business experts with the technical expertise of engineers and scientists, EPIC’s faculty affiliates work together to bring robust, cross-cutting research to the forefront of the global energy debate.

“By leveraging world-class minds with a wide variety of expertise, and following the University of Chicago tradition of inquiry and impact, we’re bringing unrivaled analytical capacity to bear in addressing the global energy challenge. Simply put, we follow the data to discover solutions.”

– Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics; Director, EPIC

In addition to faculty research, EPIC has developed several affiliated centers that target critical aspects of the global energy challenge.

  • The Climate Impact Lab is a first-of-its-kind, multidisciplinary effort working to measure the real-world costs of climate change at a local level. It is also developing the world’s first empirically-derived estimate of the global social cost of carbon, which can be used by governments around the world to set climate policy.
  • The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) is an air quality metric that converts particulate air pollution measurements into perhaps the most important factor that exists—their impact on life expectancy. The Index allows users to zoom in on any district in the world to see the effects of that district’s air pollution levels on residents’ lifespans.

Because the global energy challenge is especially pressing for large, rapidly growing countries, EPIC also has teams on the ground in India and China. The teams at EPIC-India and EPIC-China work hand-in-hand with government and industry partners to devise and experimentally test potential solutions to pressing energy and environmental challenges. Through these innovative partnerships and projects, research insights can lead to lasting policy change.

Contact Us

For general inquires, contact epic[at] Members of the media should contact Vicki Ekstrom High at vekstrom[at]

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