Seeking greener skyline, New York and partners fund smart building R&D

The city's new Urban Technology Innovation Center will focus on how to retrofit existing real estate with energy-efficiency, water management technologies.

New York City's latest program to support its aggressive sustainability mission is the new Urban Technology Innovation Center, a joint effort between the city and several local universities focused on trying to figure out how to retrofit the millions of square feet of older, existing buildings to better green building citizens.

The center will be funded with $250,000 from the New York City Economic Development, and $500,000 from Columbia University, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, and the City University of New York. The focus will be on research and testing of green building technologies -- everything from smart building networks to water management systems to green building materials to analytics systems and energy-efficiency applications that will tie everything together. IBM is one of the private sector companies that will be involved, with its smart-building analytics expertise.

The new center has three specific missions:

  1. To allow technology companies to test their products and green building approaches on operational buildings in New York. Building owners agreeing to participate in pilot programs might, in exchange, receive a discount for full deployments of the technologies.
  2. To establish a best practices database so that building owners know what to expect when they commit to these technologies.
  3. To address public-private partnership opportunities and allow for new financing models to develop.

There are plenty of green quotes supporting the initiative in the official press release, but this one from David Bragdon, director of the Mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, seems to crystallize the matter best from my perspective:

"New York City's building and energy codes, enacted by the City Council as the Greater Green Buildings plan in 2009, will require more energy efficiency and save money for property owners, but public policy needs to work hand-in-hand with private initiative if we're all going to achieve the maximum benefits. Today's partnership of city government, academic research institutions, and private industry will provide more ways to fulfill the environmental and economic possibilities of a greater, greener New York."

Plenty of cities have smart-building and smart growth initiatives going on, but I'm racking my brains to thing of one that has set up a technology center such as this one. Other smart city technology and planning resources:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com