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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Energy Analysis and Sustainability

(Wikimedia Commons / Photo 1: skinnylawyer / Photo 2: TheDigitel Myrtle Beach / Photo 3: Spsmiler)

The U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Energy Analysis and Sustainability Division focuses on the intersection between energy and transportation, providing innovative, impactful, energy-related transportation analyses, support, and solutions for our sponsors.

We work with transportation leaders to:

  • Investigate and support the expansion of transportation energy sources (fuels, electrification, and infrastructure)
  • Reduce transportation energy use (improving efficiency and reducing emissions and costs)
  • Improve transportation energy assurance (through increased performance, diversification, resilience, and security while advancing toward a more resilient transportation system with a strong understanding of disruptions, consequences, and mitigation)


Our team specializes in nine key areas of expertise that cut across our transportation-energy mission:

  • Data, Tools, and Modeling: Multimodal supply chain analyses, custom modeling tool development, energy-related GIS analyses, performance measure and dashboard development, energy use analysis and reporting, and data statistics/visualizations.
  • Ecology: Air/water/soil use and quality analyses, land use change analyses, ecosystem function support and analyses, and biodiversity/wildlife analyses.
  • Economics: Cost-benefit analyses for transportation energy resilience solutions, infrastructure technology analyses, and employment/commuting/freight impact analyses.
  • Environment: Natural hazards and extreme weather analyses, emissions analyses including criteria pollutants and GHG, and environmental risk/impact analyses.
  • Market Transformation: Technical and programmatic support for initiatives focused on the deployment of fuels and advanced technology vehicles, and support for fueling infrastructure to achieve energy security and emission reduction goals.
  • Policy: Regulatory analyses, policy development, and policy support.
  • Safety: All-hazards analyses including natural hazards, crash hazards, multimodal conflicts, technology hazards, and military hazards, as well as comprehensive program evaluations, risk assessments, and mitigation strategies.
  • Society: Transportation access analyses for both rural and urban residents, and impact assessments for vulnerable communities in both rural and urban settings.
  • Technology: Engineering assessments including TRL evaluations and FMEA expertise, trade-off assessments, deployment experience, micro-grid expertise, facility energy efficiency, and procurement assistance.

Sample Work

Transportation Energy Source:

  • Developed a flow-able national model for evaluating optimal freight and fuel transport patterns, costs, and impacts that includes all transportation modes and intermodal facilities.
  • Led research for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI).
  • Assisted FAA in developing fuel, feedstock, and environmental readiness evaluation tools for new jet fuel for commercial and defense sector use.
  • Evaluated the feasibility of transporting jet fuels over the current transportation network.
  • Contributed to GHG lifecycle analyses associated with canola-based jet fuels.
  • Supported the Federal Highway Administration in implementing the Alternative Fuel Corridors Designation Initiative according to the requirements outlined in the FAST Act section 1413.
  • Evaluated the environmental considerations for DOE’s ARPA-E and Brown University for a hydrokinetic energy recovery device potentially located in navigable waterways, and whose power could be used to power ships in port or EVs near shore.

Transportation Energy Use:

  • Developed clean, safe urban freight analyses for various sponsors, including cities, with the goal of reducing fleet emissions over time and progressing toward the Vision Zero goals.
  • Supported cities and states in developing lateral protective device standards, technology transfer, and implementation plans as part of Vision Zero that have the potential to save energy and increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians that collide with the sides of large trucks.
  • Supported the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Clean Cities program with technical facilitation and training throughout the country for fuel and advanced technology vehicle and infrastructure deployments.
  • Assisted various public lands organizations in solving their transportation energy infrastructure and vehicle needs, developing detailed specifications from their needs, and supporting every step of the procurement process.
  • Supported various federal agencies (including the FAA, MARAD, and OST) and state agencies with transportation facility energy modeling, audits, and reduction initiatives.

Transportation Energy Assurance

  • Supported the Department of Defense with transportation energy resilience analyses, including the evaluation of alternative architectures with energy storage, micro-grids, fuel cells, conventional generators, and power islands.
  • Developed a transportation energy resilience toolkit capable of analyzing all hazards for the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Energy Assurance’s Resilient Energy Demonstration Initiative (REDI) that is applicable to all Air Force installations.
  • Led U.S. DOT’s novel assistance to stakeholders in Hampton Roads, Virginia—home to the largest naval base in the world—to quantify the direct and indirect economic consequences due to impacts on the transportation system from existing and worsening recurrent flooding, storm surge, sea level rise, and all other hazards.
  • Analyzed global approaches to addressing biofuel-related invasive species risks and incorporation into U.S. laws and policies.


View selected staff biographies.

Last updated: Thursday, April 22, 2021