An energy consumption map for New York City

Midtown Manhattan uses more electricity than Kenya. Now you can picture it, thanks to one Columbia University professor's interactive energy consumption map.

It’s no secret that a city like New York use a lot of energy, but it might be surprising that Midtown Manhattan alone use more energy to keep the buzz going than the entire country of Kenya.

Vijay Modi, a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University, and Bianca Howard, a graduate student, are working on a project that aims to put New York city’s energy consumption on the map.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Modhi says his interactive map estimates the annual energy consumption for nearly every public building across the five boroughs. Information about individual buildings are not on the map for the public since that type of information is confidential.

Although two-thirds of the buildings in New York are residential buildings, their consumption only accounts for half of the energy; commercial buildings use far more energy per square foot. The map shows each property's energy consumption broken down to heating, cooling, electricity and hot water. This give people the opportunity to inspect the city, block by block, and take notice of the patterns of which buildings and areas that consume more energy.

Each building is color-coded, indicating the annual energy draw with dark red denoting the largest energy consumption. The color coding is based on data from the city organized by ZIP code. Estimates for each property are based on the type and size of the building, allowing New Yorkers to get an idea of how much energy is used inside their offices, businesses, homes and, of course, the neighbors'.

Modi said that the goal is to take some of the mystery out of the energy consumption and give people the possibility to break down their energy bill—much like how you look at a grocery store bill and see where you’ve spent your money.

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