Mapping Energy Efficiency in NYC

Jill Bunting
Jan 6, 2016 · 3 min read

Click here for the full-size interactive map

Thanks to New York’s Local Law 84, NYC buildings with more than 50,000 square feet are required to submit annual data on energy and water consumption. PlaNYC publishes a meaty report summarizing the data, but I was interested in how things look at the building-level. So I decided to put the Local Law 84 data on a map.

Why map building energy efficiency

Having energy data mapped can make it more accessible and actionable. Tenants and prospective buyers can see how their buildings compare with others and encourage landlords/co-op boards to make upgrades. Landlords can learn about upgrade from peers with similar profiles. Utilities and energy efficiency companies can better target their services where they’re most needed.

Take a whirl around the map — how does your building compare to your neighbors?

As an energy nerd, it’s always interesting to get X-ray vision into the energy use of buildings, like some of NY’s most iconic:

Energy use at the Empire State Building and the Plaza

The Plaza is using a ton of energy per square foot. Eloise probably always forgets to turn off the lights.

Famous building aside, it’s interesting how buildings that look very similar can have vastly different energy footprints. Take this group of three apartment buildings on the Upper West Side:

Building fronts on West 86th Street

According to the building data set, the two buildings on either side (168 West 86th and 156 West 86th) are both pre-wars — built before 1930. The obviously newer one in the middle (160 West 86th) was built in 1998.

Next, the energy map:

160 West 86th (the newest building) is using 228 kBtu of energy per square foot — more than twice as much as its 60+ year older neighbor at 168 West 86th. 156 West 86th is in between the two at 126 kBtu/sqft.

I think we sometimes have this sense that there’s not much we can do to impact our energy use — either individually or as a community. But when you see buildings performing so differently, it leads you to ask more questions about what’s driving these differences and what we can learn from leaders.

About the data

  • Energy use per square foot: Weather-normalized source energy per square foot via
  • Building shapefiles: NYC OpenData

I cleaned the data up a bit by deleting any buildings without data on energy use per square foot. I also removed the top and bottom 1%, which PlaNYC also does. This left about 8,600 buildings in the data file (out of around 14,000 buildings covered by Local Law 84).

Originally published at on January 6, 2016.

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