Cities are increasingly adopting energy policies that reduce information asymmetries and knowledge gaps through data transparency, including energy disclosure and mandatory audit requirements for existing buildings. While energy benchmarking and reporting is a relatively low-cost mandate, energy audits impose non-trivial costs on building owners. Using data from the first large-scale mandatory audit policy in the U.S. – New York City’s Local Law 87 – we test the effect of audits on energy use for approximately 4,000 buildings from 2011 to 2016. The naturally-occurring randomized control environment provides a unique opportunity to explore the audit effect absent the self-selection bias found in studies of voluntary audit policies. We use non-parametric statistical tests and Bayesian regression to evaluate the impact of building audits on energy consumption pre- and post-audit, compared to a control group not subject to the audit requirement. We find a modest negative impact on energy use, equal to approximately -2.5% for residential and -4.9% for office buildings, which is consistent with savings expected from low-cost energy conservation measures and retro-commissioning activities. The results suggest that mandatory audits, by themselves, create an insufficient incentive to invest in energy efficiency at the scale needed to meet citywide carbon reduction goals.

Research Team

Sokratis Papadopoulos

PhD Candidate

Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE

DIRECTOR, URBAN INTELLIGENCE LAB; Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning; Director, Civic Analytics Program

Sokratis Papadopoulos

PhD Candidate

sokratis.papadopoulos@nyu.edu
646.705.3295

Sokratis is a PhD candidate in Civil and Urban Engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering and NYU CUSP.

He holds an MSc in Engineering Systems and Management from Masdar Institute, UAE (2015). His research interests lie between applied data science and optimization of building energy performance, with an emphasis on human actions.

Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE

DIRECTOR, URBAN INTELLIGENCE LAB; Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning; Director, Civic Analytics Program

ckontokosta@nyu.edu

Prof. Kontokosta brings training urban planning, data science, economics, and systems engineering to the data-driven study of cities.

Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE, is an Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning and Director of the Civic Analytics program at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management. He also directs the Urban Intelligence Lab and holds cross-appointments at the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering (CUE). He is affiliated faculty at the Wagner School of Public Service, Visiting Professor of Computer Science at the University of Warwick (UK), and a Senior Scholar at the New York Academy of Medicine. Previously, he served as the inaugural Deputy Director of CUSP and Assistant Professor of Urban Informatics at CUSP and CUE, where he was part of the Center’s founding leadership team and designed and launched the first graduate program in urban informatics. He is the founding Principal Investigator of the Quantified Community research initiative that integrates hyperlocal urban sensors with city-scale data analytics to understand neighborhood dynamics and well-being, and is one of the largest community-driven IoT projects in New York City. He is a 2017 recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his research in urban informatics for sustainable cities.

Trained in urban planning and computational methods (Columbia), finance and economics (NYU), and systems science and engineering (UPenn), Constantine brings an inter-disciplinary perspective to urban science that integrates fundamental research with impact-driven, use-inspired needs. His work leverages large-scale data with computational methods to understand and drive change in energy efficiency and climate policy, neighborhood change and the impacts of urban development, and community-driven air quality monitoring and environmental justice. Recent projects include research with NYC311 and Kansas City to measure bias in citizen complaint reporting for predictive analytics; with a homeless shelter provider to apply machine learning algorithms to identify at-risk homeless families; and with the City of New York, Washington, DC, and the UN to leverage large-scale data analytics for building energy and climate policy. Constantine’s research groups – the Civic Analytics Program and the Urban Intelligence Lab – are motivated by a desire to bring evidence to policy-making, to democratize knowledge through information transparency, and to uncover discrimination and bias in data-driven decision-making.

Constantine’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), MacArthur Foundation, Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, among others, and he has received several honors for his work, including the IBM Faculty Award, the Google IoT Research Award, the UN Data for Climate Action Challenge Award,  the Goddard Junior Faculty Fellowship, the Charles Abrams Award for Social Justice Research, and a NYU Award for Teaching Excellence. Constantine has published more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in leading academic journals – in fields ranging from urban planning to signal processing – and has two forthcoming books on urban analytics and data-driven climate action. His research has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, FastCompany, CityLab, Wired, CNN, NPR, and other media outlets. He holds a PhD, M.Phil, and M.S. from Columbia University, a M.S. from New York University, and a B.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania.

He serves on committees and advisory boards at the National Academies, DARPA, and the NSF Northeast Big Data Hub, and previously served on the boards of the UNEP Sustainable Buildings and Climate Council, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and as Vice Chair and Commissioner of the Suffolk County (NY) Planning Commission. In addition to his academic work, Constantine is an accomplished entrepreneur and, together with his brother, Michael Kontokosta, designed, built, and owns Kontokosta Winery, the Harborfront Inn, and Cove Place Inn, all on the North Fork of Long Island, as well as numerous properties in New York City and the East End.