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The New York Academy of Sciences Presents Conference on Data-Driven Built Environment

Experts to convene on May 30 to discuss the use of metrics to bolster the environmental and business cases for sustainable buildings.

Published May 24, 2012

NEW YORK, May 24, 2012—The New York Academy of Sciences will host The Implications of a Data-Driven Built Environment on May 30, 2012, a full-day conference to evaluate the use of data in achieving building sustainability and real estate market transformation goals.

It is clear both locally and abroad that the real estate industry is turning to metrics to validate and evaluate buildings. "Data mining has exploded in the past decade along with the profusion of devices that track and monitor our environment. The result is a virtual tsunami of data that will transform all aspects of the built environment from the way we design and operate buildings to the manner in which people experience cities and the fundamental profit model of the real estate industry," says Chris Garvin of Terrapin Bright Green, one of the chief conference organizers.

But, adds Garvin, without the proper tools the industry will be overwhelmed, leading to frustration, internal resistance, and potentially lost opportunities.

The reasons for the trend towards data gathering are wide-ranging. They span the need to adhere to new regulations, the desire to improve building performance through modeling, measurement, and benchmarking, and the aspiration to revolutionize building design and engineering to take into account user behavior and to maximize user satisfaction. Essentially, the industry has recognized that embracing sustainability will not only have favorable impacts on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption and increase environmental health and safety for building occupants, but that doing so concurrently positively affects the financial bottom-line.

But it is no longer sufficient to rely on anecdotal evidence of the benefits of green buildings; hard data will be the way in which both the environmental and business case is made. Currently, every segment of the industry is looking at the issue from its own silo and generating reams of sector-specific data. What would be beneficial is a comprehensive view that identifies what each sector requires—operators, owners, regulators, bankers, underwriters, and tenants—in order to leverage all of these needs to move the industry forward, systematically.

In order for the conference to reflect the views of all relevant stakeholders, the Academy assembled a diverse group of experts to organize the conference sessions and provide input on a subsequent publication that will offer recommendations on the subject. "The Academy's value is that it provides a neutral environment where substantive, pre-competitive discussions and planning can occur. We frequently bring together key stakeholders on issues with the aim of being strategic about collective goals and opportunities," says Michel Wahome, program manager at the Academy.

Conference participants are drawn from across a broad base of stakeholders: from established companies like Cisco, Johnson Controls, IBM, and Vornado; to innovative startups such as Opower and  icosystem; academic institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, NYU, and University of Arizona; policymakers from city and state agencies; and non-governmental organizations such as the National Resources Defense Fund. A major highlight of the conference will be the final session, which will offer attendees a preliminary look at the highly anticipated analysis of the green building benchmarking data collected through New York City's Local Law 84.

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at