Thousands of New Yorkers have joined the groundbreaking, energy-saving community of GridRewards — and they’re getting paid to do it!
By: Piper Fialkoff and Sydney Kenton
While New York City rang in the New Year with another sensational celebration, New Year’s Day marked the start of a new reason to celebrate: the start of Local Law 97 (LL97) compliance years in NYC.
In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by our built environment, this groundbreaking legislation was established by City Council in 2019 to set carbon emissions caps on buildings greater than 25,000 square feet. The goal is to decrease citywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 through a combination of electrification, energy efficiency projects, and increased renewable energy generation upstream to issue in a new era of decarbonization.
It has long been known that buildings account for 40% of carbon emissions in the country, making efficient retrofitting and electric education paramount to adapt to a swiftly warming planet. In New York City, buildings account for a whopping two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions. While the largest energy consumers face steep penalties should they go above their allotted carbon cap, they are also able to join incentive programs like demand response that will pay them for making smarter energy choices.
In the past few years, demand response programs have expanded to include small energy users like apartment-dwellers or homeowners in Con Edison territory in New York, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric territories in California, and CenterPoint, Oncor, AEP, TX Central, AEP TX North, TNMP, and TXU electric territories in Texas. Our own application, GridRewards, uses gamified technology that allows small energy users to participate in demand response and get a bite of the rewards through making smart energy choices of their own.
In the last three years, small energy users have banded together to shift the power from dirty, fossil-fuel intensive powerplants, through simple, collective action. In 2023, our community grew to nearly 16,000 users, each one taking a pledge to reduce their electricity consumption at key times when the electric grid is the most strained.
During the summer, users are notified of GridRewards Events — when an event is called, our users curtail their electric usage as much as they comfortably can. For a few hours, they’re doing their part to alleviate some strain on the grid — and get paid for it.
During just one event, our GridRewards users brought down the peak electricity draw on the grid by 6.2 megawatts! This huge reduction was the equivalent of taking an entire small town completely off the grid, turning off more than 1700 central AC systems, and offsetting the charging of almost 1000 electric vehicles — and that’s only during one event! These small energy users were also joined by over 1600 properties across the country — generating more than 50 MW of grid-flexible capacity.
But what does this have to do with LL97?
With climate change continuously impacting our normal way of life, it’s more important than ever to establish good energy habits and education. LL97 is an incredible piece of legislation, placing the onus on property managers and landlords to not only make vast retrofits to improve building function, but to intrinsically change the way their properties consume energy. The latter is significantly easier to accomplish when buildings have access to close to real-time energy usage data — and when they can track their carbon emissions.
Our SmartKit AI platform allows owners and operators to do just that — this revolutionary technology drives real, measurable impact by providing anywhere from hourly to weekly to yearly data, and personalized, building-specific action insights that encourage informed decisions about a building’s energy use. By unlocking building data, operators can see just how close they are to hitting their carbon emissions cap or how far below they are due to ongoing retrofits and efficient usage. While this data is incredible, it’s only part of the bigger picture. There are more than 8.4 million residents in New York City — each one with their own energy story to tell.
That’s where GridRewards Community comes in. Our newest add-on to SmartKit AI has no tricky hurdles or technical blockades, making joining an energy rewards program easier than ever. It’s as simple as filling out a short form and checking a box! And it’s great for building owners as well — by giving small residents the opportunity to be a part of the energy transition, they’re providing an incentive-based approach to reduce energy usage — and carbon emissions! — in the resident space. This gives residents and operators more power than ever to drive real, measurable climate impact.
Complying with new carbon emissions regulations shouldn’t be scary — in fact, these new rules are incredible drivers of innovation, resiliency, and even energy affordability. New York City is setting a standard for how cities can take measurable steps to achieving decarbonization by involving all energy users, small and large.
If you are interested in learning more about energy efficiency and complying with LL97, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. First time inquiries can earn a month free of weekly carbon emissions reports!