NYC Announces Program to Help Cleantech Entrepreneurs and Accelerate Green Technology Use in Buildings

New York City announced an innovative program, whose primary purpose is to create green jobs, but will also give cleantech entrepreneurs a chance to test drive their new products in city buildings. A third benefit is that the technologies improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

Cleantech start-ups will be able to offer their products – which increase energy efficiency in buildings – for trial runs to landlords. 

The program is part of the Municipal Entrepreneurial Testing System (M.E.T.S.) that launched in January. Its goal is to increase green jobs in NYC by connecting clean technologies with landlords that are willing to test their products in their buildings.

It can be very expensive for start-ups to test products, but it’s a necessary step for gaining investor finance and for launching products in the marketplace.

And landlords can "try before they buy" to make sure they work. If they decide to buy, they’ll get a discount for participating in the program.

The program plans to release its first requests for proposals from cleantech start-ups in the next month. It’s still undecided whether only local start-ups will be able to participate.

In January, the Bloomberg administration launched the NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center to support jobs growth and to promote development and commercialization of green building technologies in New York City.  The Center is a partnership of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Columbia University, Polytechnic Institute of NY University, and the City University of New York (CUNY).

It connects academic institutions conducting underlying research, companies creating associated products, and building owners who will use those technologies. In addition to connecting green building technology companies that need real-world test sites to building owners, it will maintain a database of current green building technology needs and research, and will host a series of community building forums.

"We will never meet the ambitious carbon reduction goals in PlaNYC unless we reduce the emissions from New York’s one million existing buildings," said Mayor Bloomberg.

Providing companies a place to test their innovations will help them improve their products and collect data on their performance – keys to marketing their products. A resulting information and data clearinghouse will track building technology costs, benefits, and lessons learned from deployments underway throughout the City. And it will host stakeholder discussions with private sector and academic institutions on green building entrepreneurship, financing and City-specific challenges.

"New York City’s building and energy codes, enacted by the City Council as the Greater, Greener Buildings plan in 2009, will require more energy efficiency and save money for property owners, but public policy needs to work hand-in-hand with private initiative if we’re all going to achieve the maximum benefits," said David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability.

Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science through its Center for Technology, Innovation, and Community Engagement will manage and operate the NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center. The New York City Economic Development Corporation will provide $250,000 to help establish it, and Columbia, NYU-Poly and CUNY will provide upwards of $500,000 worth of resources, including staff to develop the program, build the database and conduct corporate outreach. The Center will develop a sponsorship and membership structure whereby technology companies and building owners can join at various levels ranging from $1,000-$50,000 a year. A variety of potential members, including building owners, technology companies, and other stakeholders such as utilities, financial institutions, contractors, design firms, and nonprofit organizations, have already expressed an interest in joining. The Center will seek additional sponsors to support the expansion of its activities.

IBM will collaborate by applying advanced computing technology – such as cloud computing, real-time analytics, and supercomputing – to help NYC become a global leader in deploying smart building technologies. "This approach will help building owners in the city increase the attractiveness, efficiency and sustainability of their real estate through significant improvements in how they use energy, water and other resources," said Dr. Katherine Frase, Vice President, IBM Research.

The NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center builds on the Bloomberg Administration’s efforts to strengthen NYC’s economy, while supporting and attracting green businesses. The initiatives are a culmination of more than two years of analysis and hundreds of interviews with experts from across the industry to determine the scope of the City’s green sector. In the effort to double the number of green jobs in NYC, the initiatives focus on four target areas that will account for 70% of green jobs in NYC over the next decade: green buildings, on-site renewable energy, environmental finance, and greener neighborhoods.

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