Carbon emissions tracked to individual buildings

A new software system can map greenhouse gas emissions right down to street level, and even rate particular buildings.

Arizona State University’s Hestia system combines public database data-mining with traffic simulation and building-by-building energy-consumption modeling to produce high-resolution maps of emissions.

“Cities have had little information with which to guide reductions in reenhouse gas emissions – and you can’t reduce what you can’t measure,” says associate professor Kevin Gurney.

“With Hestia, we can provide cities with a complete, three-dimensional picture of where, when and how carbon dioxide emissions are occurring.”

The research team collected data from a wide variety of sources -local air pollution reports, traffic counts and tax assessor parcel information – and then combined it within a modeling system to quantify CO2 emissions at the level of individual buildings.

So far, the team’s put it into action for the city of Indianapolis, and is working on Los Angeles and Phoenix. They hope to ultimately map the CO2 emissions in all major cities acrosUltimately, they say, they hope to cover the entire United States, which accounts for nearly one-quarter of all global CO2 emissions.

“These results may also help overcome current barriers to the United States joining an international climate change treaty,” says Gurney.

“Many countries are unwilling to sign a treaty when greenhouse gas emission reductions cannot be independently verified.”