Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

NYC Solar Map: a powerful tool for transformation to a solar future

Posted 12 Jun 2015 / 0

A colleague of mine, Jeremy Tausch, just pointed me towards the NYC Solar Map, an amazing tool for promoting the increased use of solar electricity and solar water heating in New York City. The interactive online map allows users to find out information about existing solar installation in the five boroughs, providing both a ‘reputational reward’ for individuals and institutions that have already gone solar and a ‘proof of concept’ for those considering adding a solar installation. Perhaps what is even more powerful is that the user can click on any building — most importantly their own — to learn all about the solar energy potential of that building. A big concern for those considering solar is how much energy could be generated, which relates to the bottom line question when can I expect to make back my investment in the solar system? The NYC Solar Map makes all these calculations for you, presenting a nice graph showing how many years it will take you to make money on your solar investment.

You can learn more about how to use the site here:

Although I have not played with the tool extensively, it seems to be well-designed. The feature that estimates solar potential of every building in NYC is pretty amazing. I live in a large co-op building in South Brooklyn, and I was able to see that it would take about thirteen years for my co-op to recoup its investment in solar electric power (even with more than 50% of the $500K-plus cost covered by existing incentives). While that might be an investment that I would take seriously if I owned a single family home, such a long delay in return on investment is not likely to entice co-op members to increase their monthly maintenance fees. So the map actually can serve as a political tool, as it makes it pretty clear that some buildings are going to need additional incentives in order to “go solar”.

I am bookmarking this site for my next move… as I search for a slightly bigger home to accommodate my family, considering how potential homes might be converted to solar is a definite factor in my purchasing decision!

A Minor Post, Information Design, Sustainability, Sustainable Energy, Web Design

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