- Lauren Ross, PhD, MA
- Vjollca Berisha, MD
- Diana Hernandez
Research Project Description
Our project tackles the critical intersection of energy, health, and equity and proposes novel methods for measuring and tracking energy resources, household vulnerabilities and health indicators as a community development strategy. Access to clean and affordable energy is vital for a community’s health, economic growth, and financial stability. We believe community development can be enhanced when residents, community leaders, and policymakers are empowered to not only recognize the relationship between health and energy, but to take steps to lower bills and promote the equitable uptake of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. We seek to enable local health and sustainability officials to identify and tackle the problem of energy insecurity in their communities in a way that reduces household energy consumption while maximizing health impacts. The term “energy insecurity” refers to the challenges individuals and families face in meeting household energy needs primarily due to financial hardship (i.e. heat or eat dilemma), faulty heating/cooling equipment and other inefficiencies in the home. It may also be induced by extreme weather or unreliable energy services. Energy insecurity carries important implications for physical and mental health across the life course. Using a mixed-method case study approach, our research will address the following questions:
- How can local governments measure and track energy insecurity at the community-level?
- What are the strongest energy insecurity and related health indicators at the community-level?
- What are best practices for streamlining health - and energy-related interventions to maximize energy savings and health impacts across the community?
The goal of this research is to implement a replicable method that local officials can use to identify and track energy insecurity in their communities and ultimately to develop policies that inextricably address both health and energy consumption, especially for households underserved by clean energy services.
Lauren Ross, PhD, MA
Dr. Ross is the Director of Local Policy at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). She currently oversees and coordinates ACEEE’s work on community energy efficiency where she conducts research and policy analysis on energy efficiency in affordable housing, local energy policy and planning, energy data access, local government-utility engagement, and multifamily energy efficiency.
Vjollca Berisha, MD
Dr. Berisha is a Senior Epidemiologist in the Office of Epidemiology at Maricopa County Department of Public Health. She leads a multidisciplinary team in the areas of communicable disease and heat-related illness. She also leads the Maricopa County Climate Change and Public Health Coalition. This partnership engages external community partners and academic institutions to co-lead the effort on climate and health moving forward.
Dr. Hernández is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Her work focuses on the social and environmental determinants of health by querying the impacts of policy and place-based interventions on the health and socioeconomic well-being of vulnerable populations with a particular emphasis on energy insecurity.