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Climate resilience and the new era of urban infrastructure

By District Energy posted 06-22-2022 06:42




As the largest city in North America, New York City represents the opportunity and staggering risk of a metropolitan area of 9 million people running on 20th century infrastructure.

From the advent of technologies such as elevators and subways to policies such as PlaNYC and Local Law 97, New York has long been a beacon for urban innovation. With more than 500 million square feet of commercial office space in NYC (all reliant on fossil fuels or Con Edison’s steam system), how can the real estate and construction industry decarbonize at scale, implement solutions that perform over the next 20-plus years and recapitalize our architectural fabric? 

The path to revitalize our infrastructure as an engine of future economic growth must begin with a series of "lighthouse projects" that prove viability. The energy industry, real estate sector and city government can’t swallow the elephant whole.

According to the New Buildings Institute, the number of verified zero energy buildings in the U.S. and Canada more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, a sign that designers are gaining expertise for delivering on zero energy targets set by building owners. Based on proven pathways in Europe, a new American appetite is emerging for building electrification, district energy systems that can provide for heating and cooling and community microgrids that can provide both energy security, reliability and reduced emissions.

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