Agronomist Bruce Roberts received a $300,000 research grant to help fund his two-year study, according to a news release.
Roberts said he chose pistachios because they represent a prominent California crop that could be affected by looming greenhouse gas regulations.
A cap-and-trade system being proposed in Congress also could come into play.
Under that system, greenhouse gas producers that produce less than the cap could trade or sell the remainder to producers that exceed the threshold.
An emission trading market in Europe and the Chicago Climate Exchange are examples.
In addition, many retailers are asking producers for sustainability reports that include energy use and emissions.
The study will calculate the direct energy it takes to produce and distribute the crop.
Roberts also will measure the energy used to establish the orchard, monitor annual water use, fertilizer and pesticide applications, and equipment depreciation.
Part of his work will record the amount of fossil fuels and electricity used to operate machinery and irrigate.
Other areas Roberts will monitor include energy used to transport product to processors, processing, storage, handling and distribution.
In addition to the funds from the California State University Agricultural Research Institute, $150,000 has been pledged by the Fresno, Calif.-based American Pistachio Growers.