Tracking Energy Consumption For Each Building in NYC

Just how much does energy does that building across the way use? Unless a buildings lights are on all night, every night, it’s probably hard to see just how much it consumes. For the lucky residents of the Big Apple, however, a new and fascinating map has appeared on the web to help solve the mystery. From the Flat Iron building to individual buildings in Crown Heights, the map takes an astoundingly detailed look at each and every block in the five boroughs, giving it an energy consumption estimate. Not surprisingly, the gleaming Manhattan skyline easily tops the list as the biggest energy hog.

How was the map created? The New York City Building Energy Map was developed as part of a NSF IGERT funded research project in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. Surprisingly, the map was made using primarily ZIP code-level information on energy usage: from electricity to natural gas, fuel oil and steam consumption (all from 2009). That data was then placed alongside building-level information obtained from MapPLUTO (a NYC Department of City Planning geographic database). Using this combination the team at Columbia was able to estimate each buildings Energy Usage Intensity (EUI), which is annual energy consumption divided by the total building floor area.

Of course, New York City is a place of diverse weather. Cold winters and hot summers can effect these annual numbers significantly based on heating and cooling needs. So what really makes this map relevant is the way it displays the comparative consumption of each building in the city. For NYC residents, you can now zoom all the way down to your individual building and see just how those light-burning Joneses are doing across the street.

Quick question: how soon do you think we’ll get this data ported into Google Maps and accessible on a world wide scale? How interesting would it be to compare your city to others and then see that data down to a street level? Until then, check out the NYC map here.


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