Marilyn A. Brown

Regents Professor

Member Of:
  • School of Public Policy
  • Center for Urban Innovation
  • Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory
  • Technology Policy and Assessment Center
Fax Number:
Office Location:
DM Smith 312

Marilyn Brown is a professor in the School of Public Policy. She joined Georgia Tech in 2006 after a distinguished career at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she led several national climate change mitigation studies and became a leader in the analysis and interpretation of energy futures in the United States.

Her research focuses on the design and impact of policies aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of sustainable energy technologies, with an emphasis on the electric utility industry, the integration of energy efficiency, demand response, and solar resources, and ways of improving resiliency to disruptions. Her books include Fact and Fiction in Global Energy Policy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), Green Savings: How Policies and Markets Drive Energy Efficiency (Praeger, 2015), and Climate Change and Global Energy Security (MIT Press, 2011). She has authored more than 250 publications. Her work has had significant visibility in the policy arena as evidenced by her numerous briefings and testimonies before state legislative bodies and Committees of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Dr. Brown co-founded the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance and chaired its Board of Directors for several years. She has served on the boards of directors of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Alliance to Save Energy, and was a commissioner with the Bipartisan Policy Center. She has served on 8 National Academies committees and currently serves on the editorial boards of three journals:  Energy Policy, Energy Efficiency and Energy Research and Social Science. She is serving her second term as a Presidential appointee to the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public power provider, and she serves on DOE’s Electricity Advisory Committee.

  • Ph.D., Ohio State University, Geography
  • M.R.P., University of Massachusetts, Regional Planning
  • B.A., Rutgers University, Political Science
Awards and
  • 2017, Regents Professor
  • Brook Byers Chaired Professor, Institute of Sustainable Systems, 2014-2018.
  • 2016 Alliance to Save Energy "Star of Energy Efficiency"
  • DOE Electricity Advisory Board, 2014-2018
  • 2013, “Who’s Who in Sustainability”, Atlanta Business Chronicle.
  • DOE Ambassador for Clean Energy Education and Empowerment, 2013-2017
  • 2012 Southface Energy Institute Award of Excellence
  • Presidential Appointment: Board of Directors, TVA, 2010-2017.
  • 2007 Co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for co-authorship of the IPCC Report on Mitigation of Climate Change
Areas of
  • Behavioral-based Modeling Of Climate And Energy Policy
  • Electric Utility Economics And Regulation
Research Fields:
  • Clean Energy
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Climate Change Mitigation
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Markets
  • Energy, Climate and Environmental Policy
  • Financing and Subsidies
  • Information Programs
  • Innovation and Diffusion
  • Institutional Analysis
  • Market-based Incentives
  • Regulations and Standards
  • Smart Grid
  • Transportation
  • Voluntary Programs
  • Europe
  • United States
  • United States - Georgia
  • United States - Southeast
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • PUBP-6201: Public Policy Analysis
  • PUBP-6701: Energy Technol & Policy
  • PUBP-8833: Special Topics
Recent Publications


Journal Articles

  • Infrastructure Ecology: An Evolving Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Development
       In: Journal of Cleaner Production [Peer Reviewed]

    October 2017

    Increasing urbanization places cities at the forefront of achieving global sustainability. For cities to become more sustainable, however, the infrastructure on which they rely must also become more productive, efficient and resilient. Unfortunately the current paradigm of urban infrastructure development is fragmented in approach lacking a systems perspective. Urban infrastructure systems are analogous to ecological systems because they are interconnected, complex and adaptive components that exchange material, information and energy among themselves and to and from the environment, and exhibit characteristic scaling properties that can be expressed by Zipf's Law. Analyzing them together as a whole, as one would do for an ecological system, provides a better understanding about their dynamics and interactions, and enables system-level optimization. The adoption of this “infrastructure ecology” approach will result in urban (re)development that requires lower investment of financial and natural resources to build and maintain, is more sustainable (e.g. uses less materials and energy and generates less waste) and resilient, and enables a greater and more equitable opportunities for the creation of wealth and comfort. The 12 guiding principles of infrastructure ecology will provide a set of goals for urban planners, engineers and other decision-makers in an urban system for urban (re)development.

  • Peak Shifting and Cross-Class Subsidization: The Impacts of Solar PV on Changes in Electricity Costs
       In: Energy Policy [Peer Reviewed]

    July 2017

  • Commercial Cogeneration Benefits Depend on Market Rules, Rates, and Policies
       In: Environmental Research Letters


  • Energy Resources and Use
       In: The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology [Peer Reviewed]


  • Energy-Efficiency Skeptics and Advocates: The Debate Heats Up as the Stakes Rise
       In: Energy Efficiency


  • Exploring the Impact of Energy Efficiency as a Carbon Mitigation Strategy
       In: Energy Policy [Peer Reviewed]


  • Large-scale PV power generation in China: A grid parity and techno-economic analysis
       In: Energy


  • U.S. Sulfur Dioxide Emission Reductions: Shifting Factors and a Carbon Dioxide Penalty
       In: The Electricity Journal


  • Understanding Pressures for Renewable Energy Policy Adoption and Evolution: Coercion, Emulation, Competition and Learning
       In: Journal of Cleaner Production


  • Mandating better buildings: A global review of building codes and prospects for improvement in the United States
       In: Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment [Peer Reviewed]

    March 2016

    © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.This paper provides a global overview of the design, implementation, and evolution of building energy codes. Reflecting alternative policy goals, building energy codes differ significantly across the United States, the European Union, and China. This review uncovers numerous innovative practices including greenhouse gas emissions caps per square meter of building space, energy performance certificates with retrofit recommendations, and inclusion of renewable energy to achieve 'nearly zero-energy buildings'. These innovations motivated an assessment of an aggressive commercial building code applied to all US states, requiring both new construction and buildings with major modifications to comply with the latest version of the ASHRAE 90.1 Standards. Using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), we estimate that by 2035, such building codes in the United States could reduce energy for space heating, cooling, water heating, and lighting in commercial buildings by 16%, 15%, 20%, and 5%, respectively. Impacts on different fuels and building types, energy rates and bills as well as pollution emission reductions are also examined.

  • Modeling climate-driven changes in U.S. buildings energy demand
       In: Climatic Change [Peer Reviewed]


    © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.How climate change might impact energy demand is not well understood, yet energy forecasting requires that assumptions be specified. This paper reviews the literature on the relationship between global warming and the demand for space cooling in buildings. It then estimates two key parameters that link energy for space cooling to cooling degree days (CDDs) using data for nine U.S. Census divisions, which is the spatial resolution of the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). The first parameter is the set point temperature for calculating CDDs; the second is the exponent for representing the relationship between changes in CDDs and changes in electricity consumption for space cooling. We find that the best-fitting CDDs have a set point of 67 °F (19.4 °C), for both residential and commercial buildings, rather than the conventional 65 °F (18.3 °C). Set points also vary by region, with warmer regions tending to have higher set points. When CDDs are based on the conventional set point, the best fitting exponent is 1.5 for both residential and commercial buildings, indicating that space cooling is more climate-sensitive than is specified in NEMS. As a result, the official projections of U.S. energy consumption would appear to underestimate the energy required for space cooling.
  • Opportunities and insights for Reducing Fossil Fuel Consumption by Households and Organizations


Working Papers

  • The Clean Power Plan and Beyond

    June 2016

    Since the release of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), stakeholders across the U.S. have vigorously debated the pros and cons of different options for reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation. This paper examines an array of CPP strategies, ranging from incremental to transformational, and from the near-term to the longer-term. The goal is to identify least-cost options to help policymakers and other stakeholders make well-informed choices. The Georgia Institute of Technology’s National Energy Modeling System is used to evaluate alternative futures. Our modeling suggests that CPP compliance can be achieved cost effectively by expanding new natural gas and renewable electricity generation to replace higher emitting coal plants and by using energy efficiency to curb demand growth, thereby enabling a more affordable pace of plant replacements. Post-2030 policies requiring further CO2 emission reductions, in combination with perfect foresight today, would motivate less natural gas build-out over the next 15 years. The South’s response to the CPP is distinct, with a larger share of coal retirements and a greater proportionate uptake of natural gas, energy efficiency, and renewable resources. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, these least-cost compliance scenarios would produce substantial collateral benefits including lower electricity bills across all customer classes and significant reductions in local air pollution.