MIT researchers from the university's Sustainable Design Lab have invented the first citywide building energy model that can estimate gas and electricity demands for every building in Boston at every hour on every day.

Researchers will be working to compare the model's outcomes with actual energy consumption data to determine the precision, and hope to increase the model's accuracy over the next year.

“Nobody has ever modeled a city the size of Boston at this level of detail,” Cristoph Reinhart, associate professor of architecture at MIT, explains. “It’s also the first time that these data are being used by a city to guide energy policy decisions.”

The model will be put to use by the City of Boston in determining when and how buildings consume electricity and heating fuel, and will help officials “better understand the potential for community energy solutions and to identify specific project opportunities that could lower costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make Boston’s energy system more resilient.” Specifically, Reinhart and Carlos Cerezo, a PhD student in MIT's Building Technology Program, expect the new model to be used by policymakers and planners to focus in on problem areas — such as “buildings responsible for driving peak electricity demand on a hot summer afternoon.” Determining where these problem areas are will allow officials to better determine where energy savings can be created.

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