As reported in MIT News last month, researchers at the MIT Sustainable Design Lab (SDL) and the MIT Lincoln Laboratory have worked in collaboration with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to develop a powerful new tool for planning the energy future of the City of Boston. The model continuously estimates the gas and electricity demands of every Boston building. It offers Boston, and potentially other cities, the opportunity to better determine the direction of energy policy decisions.
As cities, states, and countries make commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (such as the 2030 Challenge or COP21 Paris Agreement), the first step is to know what we’re measuring against. Many places have energy use disclosure policies where buildings, typically of a certain size, are required to report their energy use to the local authority. Once this information is gathered, cities can measure improvements against it.
But what else can be done with it? This MIT study shows one way that the data can be used is to target potential energy efficiency and renewable generation projects. This is extremely useful, because one thing we are seeing is that solutions are not at the project level, but at the district and regional level.