In a shocking report from The Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN), the study Climate Works for All showed that just 2% of New York City’s buildings use 45% of the city’s energy.

Under the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP) legislation, the city’s energy consumption reports can be viewed publicly. After delving through those reports, ALIGN found that a small percentage of luxury residential buildings were guilty of consuming a majority of the city’s energy. These buildings are home to an array of costly amenities, so it is perhaps no surprise that they use more energy than surrounding residential buildings.

ALIGN is an organization that focuses on fighting climate change. The organization uses public data to assess the city’s energy usage and they also have a goal of helping create a better job market. ALIGN looks to create a better New York City community with a focus on both energy efficiency and the city’s job availability. But in particular, their findings in regards to energy consumption can be very insightful towards a city wide problem.

The organization reached out to City Council in hopes of expanding the energy regulations to potentially govern city buildings. All metropolitan cities are looking to develop plans to moderate their building’s energy consumption but current GGBP laws only apply to buildings of over 50,000 feet. Under these regulations, energy audits aren’t necessarily required.

A study by the Columbia Engineering School hopes to offer some insight into approaching this problem from a foundational perspective. The school plans to create a program that will help urban planners, policy decision makers, and engineers understand the “local dynamics” of building energy use in New York City.

“The lack of information about building energy use is staggering,” said Bianca Howard, the leader of the Columbia Engineering School study and a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering.

Columbia’s study has grown into an interactive map that allows you to view the energy usage by location, with heat spots showing areas that may consume more energy in comparison to nearby neighborhoods! This web tool is a great way to get a visual understanding of this fundamental problem.

Now that energy consumption, especially in the New York City region is becoming more of a pressing issue, new initiatives are rolling out to help regulate the energy usage from big buildings. In the long run this will make for a better community for both corporations and residential buildings.