New York City invests in urban green tech

NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center will tap IBM smart building software to evaluate how different green building methods perform.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday launched the Urban Technology Innovation Center, an initiative to test ways to improve building efficiency.

The center is a partnership among the city, universities, and businesses that aims to identify effective green building technologies. A location has not yet been chosen, but Columbia University, City University of New York, and Polytechnic Institute of New York University will be involved.

One of the better examples of energy efficiency retrofits through green technology is the Empire State Building. Empire State Building Co.

It will be funded by $250,000 from the New York City Economic Development Corp., and the three universities will provide money in kind. The group is also seeking funding through memberships.

IBM will be involved in the research by providing computing technology to analyze building performance and evaluate products, said Florence Hudson, an IBM energy and environment executive who was involved in the project's formation.

The center will be looking for "test beds" for building efficiency, she said today in a phone interview. A company could, for example, install more efficient windows and an upgraded heating and cooling system. By gathering information on how they perform, researchers can evaluate which products perform better than others.

"When you have more information about a building, you need to know what to do with it," Hudson said.

There are already examples of how IT can tie into building management systems to optimize performance, though they are not widely used. Recently at IBM's headquarters in Armonk, N.Y., software found out that two compressors for heating were working at once, using more energy than was needed. The system sent an alert to the building manager who fixed the problem and thus saved energy.

With the Urban Technology Innovation Center, participants are expected to share the results from test cases in New York to help improve understanding of effective building management techniques and technologies, Hudson said.

 

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