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UNC wins first ever EPA contract through U.S. GSA for up to $11.2 million over five years

February 28, 2021 teacher in front of class
(Photo by Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)



The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for the Environment (IE) recently won an award for up to $11.2 million over the next 5 years from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule for its work supporting the U.S. EPA on the EMAQ  (Emissions, Air Quality and Meteorological Modeling Support) program. This is the first time UNC-Chapel Hill has secured a contract through the GSA Schedule, which offers the federal government a centralized procurement portal for federal agencies to seek products and services rather than through open grants.

“Winning a contract through the GSA Schedule is a new endeavor for us and this is the first time a UNC unit has won a contract through this funding mechanism with the federal government,” says UNC Vice Chancellor for Research Terry Magnuson. “IE has a long history with EPA and this contract opens the door for many other opportunities to do environmental research with the federal government, not only for the institute, but for anyone doing environmental research at UNC.”

modelNeighborhood-scale NOx predictions in near real-time due to traffic sources in New York City from the C-REAL modeling system

A team of investigators from UNC-Chapel Hill including the Institute, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering (ESE), Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) and subcontractors Abt Associates, Inc. (Abt), Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG), and Ramboll U.S. Corporation (Ramboll) will provide scientific, software, engineering and analysis support for the application, development, and modification of data, models and software to support emissions and air quality analyses in the U.S. The EPA uses the outputs from these activities in support of various regulatory and research initiatives to develop air quality policy for the U.S. to protect public health.

“We are proud to continue our work for the EPA through this new vehicle,” says Sarav Arunachalam, lead investigator and deputy director at the Institute. “Despite continuous improvement in the U.S. air quality over the years, new gaps arise in our scientific understanding of air pollution as the air quality standards are continuously lowered. This award reaffirms the role of the team led by UNC-IE as a leader with expertise in developing and applying emissions, meteorological and air quality models and other tools that are needed for providing the scientific basis for support of policy initiatives designed for clean air.”

country modelModeled PM2.5 concentrations for 2016 over the United States from the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model

The Institute has held two large multi-year contracts with the EPA for nearly 2 decades. Through both the CMAS (Center for the Community Modeling and Analysis System) and EMAQ contracts,  IE has focused on developing, supporting and applying open-source, community-based air quality modeling and analysis software to study air pollution and further evaluate and support policy-making for the protection of environmental and human health.


Fine-scale Black Carbon concentrations from multi-modal transportation sources in Kansas City using a novel data fusion approach


The GSA Schedule is a different way of doing business with the federal government. Once a contract is established with an agency, that agency can work directly with a UNC entity on-demand to perform relevant research. Other agencies also can tap into the expertise of UNC researchers through the platform without having to go through an open grant process.