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The City of New York has launched the Carbon Neutrality Innovation Challenge to gather ideas to tackle its biggest source of emissions – buildings.

Companies within the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s (NYCEDC) Urban Tech initiative are invited to submit ideas relating to energy storage; distributed generation; buildings systems, management and operations; building materials and insulation; and reducing ‘embodied carbon’ that is carbon stored or emitted during construction.

The Urban Tech NYC programme was launched in 2016 to support companies that develop hardware and software solutions to address the city’s most pressing challenges.

“Climate change is an existential threat to our city, and one that New Yorkers will meet with our characteristic creativity, passion and determination,” said NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner, Melanie E. La Rocca. “We look forward to harnessing the best ideas presented by innovative companies to bring forward new technologies to make our built environment part of the solution to this unprecedented challenge.”

The move aims to help towards achieving Mayor de Blasio’s Green New Deal, which has set a target for New York City to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

Balancing COVID-19 and climate commitments

Five semi-finalists will present their proposals at DOB’s Build Safe / Live Safe conference on September 25, 2020. The overall winner will receive technical support and help to introduce their technology to NYC’s design and construction industries. They will also be featured in DOB industry seminars and events highlighting building sustainability technology.

Proposals will be reviewed by the DOB’s in-house Innovation Committee and its Buildings Sustainability Board, with evaluations based on feasibility, impact and innovation. The Board will include experts from the real estate, design and construction industries.

Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director, said: “Amid the immediate Coronavirus pandemic, we cannot lose sight of our commitment to protect people’s health from the looming climate crisis.

“New York City will continue to implement its world-leading Green New Deal by divesting from fossil fuels, getting emissions to net zero, and creating a resilient and inclusive city. While these challenges are unprecedented, so are the opportunities for emerging stronger by promoting the kinds of innovation that will be inspired by this new sustainability challenge as we work to secure a liveable future for the next generation.”

Almost 80 percent of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings.

Through legislation within its Green New Deal, NYC requires all existing large buildings of 25,000 square feet or more – of which there are 50,000 – to make efficiency upgrades that lower their energy usage and emissions.

The city is aiming for a 40 percent reduction in aggregate greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction in city-wide emissions by 2050.

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