Hot Spot

Post from Jeffrey Winters:

Columbia University mechanical engineering professor Vijay Modi and PhD student Bianca Howard recently produced this map of energy use per block—or even per building—in New York City. The map is colored by energy use per square meter, so in some ways it’s nothing more than a rough estimation of how tall of a building occupies a given lot; by necessity, the six-story, 84-unit building in Brooklyn where I live is burning fire-engine red, while the single-family houses down the street are all colored energy-sipping yellow.

But I will caution that based on the energy consumption I know about (I’m on the co-op board and take a small matter of satisfaction in my own frugal energy use), the data embedded on this map should be taken with a grain of salt. According to Dr. Modi’s website, “The data comes from a mathematical model based on statistics, not private information from utilities, to estimate the annual energy consumption values of buildings throughout the five boroughs.” So while a typical prewar co-op might see a lot of energy use due to its inefficient fuel-oil boiler, I’m pretty sure that my building, which replaced its boiler with one that can run on either oil or natural gas, uses less.

Though cautions aside, it’s an interesting data visualization. One further note of interest: Data for Three Park Avenue was not provided, so there’s no way to know whether or not ASME’s mothership is an energy hog.

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The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

March 2012

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