John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Certain properties are sometimes responsible for high amounts of greenhouse gases.
If one were to imagine New York’s buildings as stony leeches sucking juice from the power grid, which ones would be the fattest, most aggressive subjects? Jill Hubley provides an answer in the form of a swell, interactive map of the city’s real-estate carbon footprint.
New York requires owners of large properties to report their utilities usage to, in the words of the city, “give building owners and potential buyers a better understanding of a building’s energy and water consumption, eventually shifting the market towards increasingly efficient, high-performing buildings.” Hubley has taken the latest data, from 2014, and colored energy-intensive buildings in tan and brown, showing how their consumption results in greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane entering the atmosphere.
The 34-year-old Brooklyn web developer—who’s something of a savant with New York cartography, having previously tackled tree species and toxic spills—says two things jumped out at her when making this map. She emails:
First, when I was looking at buildings with high emissions, I noticed many of them were owned by the New York City Housing Authority. There are also a few NYCHA buildings, however, with very low emissions. I did some searching and found this article, which notes that there’s a plan in place to improve the efficiency of NYCHA buildings. Replacement of old boilers and lighting will be the starting point.
Second, and not too surprisingly, the map makes obvious that there is a concentration of buildings with high emissions in the vicinity of Times Square. Some of these buildings have made specific commitments to reducing emissions under the mayor's New York City Carbon Challenge. This includes hotels like the Crowne Plaza Times Square and the Grand Hyatt.