faculty in hard hats in front of solar panels

Sustainable Energy Systems and Policy

We move society toward greater energy sustainability through research that informs key energy decisions at state, federal and international levels.


Cluster Type

Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster

Cluster Coordinator

Joe DeCarolis (Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering)

Cluster Colleges

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Engineering (Lead College)

Our efforts to address energy issues provide a strong foundation for future education and research in energy. This faculty cluster will serve as a catalyst by filling four critical gaps in existing expertise: energy economics, energy and environmental policy, energy-focused life cycle assessment, and energy systems engineering.

This cluster will provide the capability to assess technology and policy options through an assessment that considers relevant technical, economic, environmental and socio-political factors. In addition to exploring the broader implications of technology deployment, we will also analyze the potential effects of top-down policy. Comprehensive evaluation of competing policy alternatives is critical, as they may have divergent effects on the U.S. economy, technology deployment, and the environment. Such research is consistent with the NC State strategic plan, which focuses on addressing societal grand challenges.

Cluster Website


Our vision is to transform NC State into a hub for interdisciplinary research that informs key energy decisions at the state, federal and international levels. NC State has the potential to become an internationally recognized thought leader in energy sustainability through assessments that consider technology, policy, economics and the environment. Our efforts will provide unbiased information and advice on energy and environment issues to decision makers and the general public, and will develop comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs that elevate social and policy sciences within the curriculum.


There is a strong need for academic institutions to inform public debate on key energy issues by conducting rigorous, problem-driven research. This research must focus on energy technology performance, energy markets, the economy, public policy and anticipated environmental impacts. NC State maintains a portfolio of technology-focused energy research, including the development of smart grid technology, advanced transportation systems, nuclear fission reactors, land- and marine-based biofuels and improved building energy performance. In addition, the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center provides outreach related to the development of a sustainable energy economy in North Carolina and beyond. NC State seeks to build the expertise required to connect ongoing research to a broader set of social, political, economic and environmental concerns, which is necessary to inform real-world decisions.