Video: A Climate Change ‘Hackathon’ Takes Aim at New York’s Buildings

A bunch of really smart people spent the day figuring out how to cope with New York City's biggest source of carbon emissions.

Feb 28, 2020
Tech experts collaborate at New York's first Climathon—an event in the "hackathon" format where people innovated plans to reduce carbon emissions from New York City's buildings. Credit: Anna Belle Peevey

Tech experts collaborate at New York's first Climathon—an event in the "hackathon" format where people innovated plans to reduce carbon emissions from New York City's buildings. Credit: Anna Belle Peevey

Dozens of engineers, architects, city planners and software engineers gathered last week in an airy Hudson Yards conference space to ponder a critical urban issue related to climate change: How can New York City reduce rising carbon emissions from its buildings?

That was the driving question behind New York's first ever Climathon, a one-day "hackathon" event sponsored by Climate-KIC, the European Union's largest public-private innovations collaborative, to fight climate change with ideas, large and small. 

The session revolved around New York City's Local Law 97, which passed last year and is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions from large buildings by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Buildings are, by far, the city's largest source of emissions.

The law has been hailed as the largest emission reduction plan for buildings anywhere in the world, but it won't take effect until 2024. For the next few years, building owners and residents have an opportunity to adapt and innovate and figure out how to avoid the fines that under the law are linked to noncompliance.

At the end of a long, interactive, iterative day, a team calling itself ReGreen was declared the winner, having proposed an app that allows building owners to track energy efficiency at their properties to comply with Local Law 97. The project will be nominated for the Climathon global awards later this year.

Since 2015, Climathons have been held in 113 cities and 46 countries. 

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