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Visualizing a city's energy use

Simulated annual energy use intensity (EUI) of the commercial buildings in the urban building energy model (UBEM) for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Credit: Bilec Built Environment and Sustainable Engineering Group

The building sector in the U.S. accounts for 39 percent of energy use, with commercial buildings responsible for about half of that. As cities grapple with climate change, making commercial buildings more efficient is a key part of the solution.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering and the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation used the City of Pittsburgh to create a model built upon the design, materials and purpose of commercial buildings to estimate their energy usage and emissions. While other models may be hindered by a scarcity of data in public records, the researchers' Urban Building Energy Model (UBEM) uses street-level images to categorize and estimate commercial buildings' energy use. Their findings were recently published in ...

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