Want to know how much greenhouse gas is released on your block? Soon it may be possible to pinpoint exactly how much your building is contributing to global warming, or what parts of your city are the “hottest.” Arizona State University researchers have developed software that can estimate greenhouse gas emissions across entire urban landscapes, all the way down to roads and individual buildings. It’s named Hestia. Cities contribute about two-thirds of global greenhouse gases, and with the continued urbanization of global cities, they will become even more dominant in their greenhouse gas share.
The mapping software compiles data collected from building energy simulation models, traffic reports, power production reports, and local air pollution reports, which are then transformed into three dimensional map visualizations that can be used by policy makers and easily understood by the public. The visualizations appear as colored bars on the landscape of the city and can reveal the top emitters of greenhouse gases in the area. These maps can also represent an hourly and seasonal visual of the emissions from morning and night to show at what times certain buildings are emitting the most greenhouse gas. Indianapolis was the test site for the project and yielded insights, although unsurprising, into the major greenhouse gas emitter in the city, a coal fired power plant (represented in dark red on the map).
Funding for the project is growing and includes The Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Knauf Insulation, The Showalter Trust, The National Institute for Standards and Technology, Global Institute for Sustainability (GIOS), and the Center for Integrated Solutions for Climate Science. At Arizona State University, The project developers are taking a multi-faceted approach to funding that will hopefully keep the software affordable or open-source.