Research Focus


Primary Subject Area

Energy and Sustainability

The form and function of the modern city are characterized by the landscape of the built environment. Urban morphology has significant implications for a city’s sustainability, efficiency, and resilience. However, there is little high resolution data on building volumes, heights, and visual and spatial interactions at the city scale. The continued vertical expansion of cities necessitates a more data-driven understanding of how the three-dimensional urban form impacts critical quality-of-life issues and the well-being of city residents.

With advancements in remote sensing, especially airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), the potential exists to model urban topography at an unprecedented spatial resolution and granularity. Given the significant computing capability and data processing needed to derive insight from these data, few examples of city-specific applications currently exist.

We are developing a novel methodology to utilize Digital Surface Models (DSM) derived from LiDAR point cloud data, together with building footprint and administrative land use data, to extract detailed measures of building height, volumetry, and shape at the building scale for an entire city. These data are then used to calculate compactness ratios for more than 100,000 buildings in NYC and combined with actual building energy use data and energy end-use data to calculate the impacts of building form on energy efficiency.

Partners and Collaborators

NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability

Team Members

Bartosz Bonczak, Constantine Kontokosta



Research Team

Bartosz Bonczak

Associate Research Scientist

Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE

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

Bartosz Bonczak

Associate Research Scientist

Bartosz Bonczak is an Associate Research Scientist at CUSP working with Quantified Community and Building Informatics teams.

In his research, he applies data-driven approaches to improve building energy efficiency and the analysis of urban topography.

Bartosz received M.S. in Urban Informatics from CUSP (2015) and completed a B.S. (2009) and a M.S. (2011) in Geography with the focus on tourism at University of Lodz in his home country of Poland. Prior to joining CUSP he was Assistant Research Scientist at the Department of Geographical Sciences at University of Lodz.

Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE

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

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.