Research Papers

Energy Footprint of Urban Services Within Building Infrastructure

[+] Author and Article Information
Balázs M. Fekete

Department of Civil Engineering,
The City College of New York,
New York, NY, 10031;
Environmental Sciences Initiative,
CUNY Advanced Science Research Center,
City University of New York,
New York, NY, 10031
e-mail: bfekete@ccny.cuny.edu

Gehan Kalene

B.E. Environmental Engineering,
The City College of New York at CUNY,
New York, NY, 10031
e-mail: gehankalene@gmail.com

Anthony D. Cak

Environmental Sciences Initiative,
CUNY Advanced Science Research Center,
City University of New York,
New York, NY, 10031
e-mail: anthony.cak@asrc.cuny.edu

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received May 10, 2016; final manuscript received October 29, 2016; published online December 2, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Patrick E. Phelan.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 139(1), 011006 (Dec 02, 2016) (6 pages) Paper No: SOL-16-1218; doi: 10.1115/1.4035151 History: Received May 10, 2016; Revised October 29, 2016

Energy addiction is regarded as the primary obstacle to humanity's sustainable future. The need to change lifestyles in consumer societies to become more sustainable is advocated without a clear understanding of what elements of modern life must undergo major transformations. One of the most overlooked aspects of this question is the role of buildings that serve as homes and workspaces. The energy use for maintaining such infrastructure, especially in urban areas, and operating key services like heating or cooling, lighting, delivering water, and collecting wastewater will inevitably grow as global population becomes increasing more affluent. This paper investigates the energy costs of several aspects of these key services in urban areas, specifically delivering and heating water and heating residential spaces in the five boroughs of New York City. It provides detailed geospatial calculations as an example of assessing energy costs based on physical principles (e.g., accounting for the effects of topography and building floor elevation to deliver water and heat, and energy losses in the water distribution system). The paper also serves as a demonstration of much-needed research to price out the cost of modern life in energy terms in order to identify major inefficiencies in our current urban infrastructure, as well as the potential for efficiency improvements. While these calculations do not directly incorporate observed data, the principles demonstrated here highlight the use of quantitative geospatial analyses (based on fundamental physics) in order to look at urban infrastructures, particularly for planning and designing new cities or rebuild existing ones.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Example of PLUTO tax lot and census tracts from the U.S. Census Bureau

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Global per capita and total energy consumption (based on 2012 data from the CIA World Factbook). The black line (associated with the vertical axis on the left) shows the distribution of per capita energy use by country populations (ranked by energy use). The red curve (with the corresponding vertical axis on the right) is the cumulative energy use. The dotted green line (scenario 1) shows the cumulative energy use if the per capita energy use was more equitable at 2240 W capita−1 (which would require an unlikely 70−90 % energy use reduction in the developed world). The solid green line (scenario 2) shows the increase in total energy consumption if nations at the global average in energy consumption continue their current energy use and nations under the global average catch up to the current the 2240 W capita−1 level. The dotted and solid blue lines (scenarios 3 and 4, respectively) show the results for a doubled energy use allowance (4480 W capita−1).

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Percentage of the population as a function of the elevation of their residence. The red curve shows the percentage of people by elevation above ground. The green curve shows the percentages of people by ground elevation. The blue curve is the percentages of people by roof elevation. The yellow curve is the percentage of people by real elevation (the sum of ground and within building elevation). The cyan curve is the adjusted elevation that accounts for hydraulic head loss for delivering water.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Residential area per person by census tracts



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