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Managing Carbon Emissions for NYC Buildings with Blockchain

Earlier this month BlockApps presented a blockchain solution for managing and optimizing carbon emissions for NYC buildings.

BlockApps presented this solution to an audience of 110+ industry stakeholders as a finalist in the energy category of NYC BigApps’ 2019 blockchain competition – an event put together by NYCEDC and SecondMuse to explore potential use cases for blockchain in New York City.


BlockApps worked with stakeholders from NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, and more to develop the solution.

The finalists and organizers of NYC BigApps 2019



Reducing Carbon Emissions in NYC

In 2016, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability released the 80×50 Plan – a roadmap to reduce NYC carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This ambitious plan breaks carbon emissions into four driving categories: Buildings, Transportation, Energy, and Waste.

BlockApps chose to focus on helping manage building emissions because they have…

GHG Emission reductions by category from the 80×50 plan

Regulation for NYC Building Owners

NYC building managers face some of the most stringent ecological regulation on the planet, with NYC’s Greener Greater Buildings Plan and Climate Mobilization Act creating an impetus for NYC building owners.

Building Retrofitting: A New Challenge

These regulations present a special challenge for building owners who must retrofit their current buildings to meet new standards by as early as 2024. By 2029, most building owners will pay fines of $268 per ton of carbon emission in excess of their cap.

For existing building managers, this challenge is compounded by the need to maintain building availability for tenants and stay profitable. While retrofit activity decreases both costs and carbon emissions in the long-run, the upfront cost and effort of these activities can be unclear or initmidating.

Furthermore, this isn’t just new territory for exiting building management – these regulations also create new challenges for retrofit service providers (e.g. HVAC) as well as the regulatory authorities themselves:

BlockApps see’s the root cause of these challenges as a data management issue. While everyone wants lower costs and emissions, informed retrofit, policy, and service offering decisions are delayed by laggard (annual, monthly) data.

The Good News

We can tell this is a crucial challenge to address because lots of work has already started to address it:

  1. Data Capture Frequency – ConEd is already installing smart meters in building and providing precise energy consumption on a monthly, daily, or even hourly basis.
  2. Emissions Benchmarking – Both the public and private sectors are already using this new data source to build frameworks and tools to store building emissions data – check out the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager Tool and the Energy Scorecard Tool by Bright Power Inc. as a few examples.
  3. New Data Sources – New IoT devices and control centers are providing more diverse and frequent information that can be aggregated and analyzed.
  4. Existing Initiatives & Incentives – NYC has already started doing detailed research about effective building retrofit activity (see NYC’s Buildings Technical Working Group analysis) and is already trying to connect building managers to service provides via the NYC Retrofit Accelerator and building energy management resources.

Instead of ignoring these initiatives and starting anew, this STRATO solution would leverage these initiatives to enhance the platform.

Solution – GHG Data Ledger & Retrofit Marketplace

To address these challenges, BlockApps defined a two-part STRATO solution:

How It Works

At a high level, both solutions will have the same user types: building managers, regulators, and service providers. Each solution would be a separate application, but smart contracts and ledger data could be connected between the two at the network level.

Building data and events such as meter readings, IoT data readings, marketplace bids, and retrofit project progress could all be codified into smart contracts that interact with one another.

While either solution alone could help address the challenges of retrofit activity in NYC, BlockApps sees a compounded benefit from building and connecting the two solutions together: whenever a retrofit activity from the marketplace is completed, regulators can officially validate the retrofit and add it back to a building’s profile on the GHG ledger.

Solution Benefits

The benefits of the solution stem from addressing the core issue spurred by the NYC regulation – laggard, unreliable, or non-existent data. This solution provides a trusted source of truth (and resources) for GHG data and retrofit activity and unlocks benefits for all parties involved:

Why Blockchain?

Great question! To us, the question is more ‘Why STRATO?’ – while blockchains in general enable a ‘single source of truth’, this solution would not be possible – much less ‘value-add’ – without some of the enterprise-grade capabilities and features of STRATO.

STRATO unlocks the benefits of blockchain and the Ethereum protocol for a comprehensive solution

Solution Presentation

BlockApps’ Caleb Ferguson presented this solution to a group of 110+ industry stakeholders and a panel of four judges from ConEd, DCAS, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and the Urban Futures Lab.

You can watch some video clips of the presentation below and follow along by downloading the presentation here.

Event Summary

Startup Showcase
Prior to the finalist’s competition, there was a startup showcase which featured early-stage NYC blockchain startups showcasing their projects, including:

We had a great time speaking and learning with these startups focused on improving our hometown!

Categories & Finalists

The competition was split between three categories: Identity, Real Estate Management, and Energy. You can see a full list of the finalists and their solutions here.


Real Estate Management


Event Group & Organizers

NYC BigApps
NYC BigApps is the flagship civic innovation challenge in New York City for developers, product designers, academics, students, entrepreneurs, and New Yorkers at large to apply their know-how to improve the Big Apple.

This year, NYC BigApps Blockchain invited participants to collaborate with government leaders to co-design meaningful blockchain applications that solve real-world challenges facing public sector services and processes.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. See their post about the event here.

SecondMuse works with visionary cities, governments, organizations and startups to create 21st-century economies. From Brooklyn to Bali, their programs build sustainable businesses, strong networks and informed, intimate communities simultaneously.

Special Thanks

In addition to the event organizers and participants, BlockApps would like to extend a special thanks to industry stakeholders that helped us develop this solution:

Dave Crudele – NYSERDA
Ross MacWhinney – Mayor’s Office of Sustainability
James Hannah – Bright Power Inc.
Jimmy Carchietta – Cotocon Group