December 9, 2020

Newlab's Circular City Studio Demonstrates How Transformative Technologies Build Equitable, Livable and Resilient Cities

Smart dispensing, environmental intelligence, and energy consumption management technologies piloted across Brooklyn.

Newlab today unveiled the results of its second Circular City Studio program, a collaboration launched in 2018 with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) that brings entrepreneurs, engineers, and inventors together to pilot new technologies to address the complex and urgent sustainability challenges facing New York City.  Newlab selected Aclima, Algramo, and Sapient Industries from a pool of worldwide applicants. The companies piloted their technologies in real-world environments. The companies tested technologies that monitor air pollution's hyperlocal effects, sustainably and safely distributed cleaning products, and managed buildings' electricity usage while providing insights and services that will better prepare New Yorkers for critical challenges as a result of a pandemic and beyond.

Aclima is a purpose-driven technology company dedicated to catalyzing bold climate action that protects public health, reduces emissions, and advances equity. As part of the Circular City Studio, Aclima deployed its mobile air quality sensing platform in Brooklyn community districts 2, 6 and 7 using a specially-equipped vehicle. From August 5 to November 4, 2020, Aclima logged and geotagged more than 125 million air-quality data points. This hyperlocal data can be used by policymakers and environmental justice advocates in support of their work to reduce emissions and protect public health. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the link between air pollution and respiratory health is driving demand for better data to understand health inequities and develop policy to support a more livable, sustainable future for all.  

  • Pollutant levels for PM2.5, O3, NO2, and CO for the entire mapped area averaged over the three month measurement period were below established EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
  • Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels averaged over the three month mapping period exceeded the EPA NAAQS 1-year standard on several blocks. 
  • Initial analysis identified potential hotspot locations near stationary and mobile emissions sources. Aclima is engaging local community and environmental justice organizations to inform deeper analysis into 2021.

Algramo is building the next generation of modern, sustainable, and contactless refill systems. During the studio, Algramo piloted its smart dispensing system in Brooklyn, its US debut, in partnership with brand partners including The Clorox Company and Colgate. The company stocked its dispensers with much-needed cleaning products equipped with RFID-tagged reusable bottles that deliver the exact amount customers needed. 

  • According to surveys conducted, 64% responded positively to the cost savings, and 86% said they plan to reuse their bottles.
  • Based on the pilots' momentum, Algramo has expedited manufacturing the second version of its machine and is planning to deploy units in other New York locations.

Sapient Industries is a commercial building analytics SaaS platform that provides a robust energy and asset management solution supported by a deployment of smart outlets and smart power strips throughout a facility. This platform collects and analyzes live power consumption data for every plugged-in device. The devices can then be controlled (turn on/off) by Sapient’s cloud-based application, which uses machine learning to identify each device, build behavioral models based on occupants’ usage, and ultimately optimize power delivery to them. Their Circular City pilot at Newlab yielded the following results:

  • 50% annual reduction in plug load and 8,964 kWh of energy savings by identifying sources of high-energy consumption and other areas of energy waste from all equipment monitored by the Sapient solution 
  • Emission reduction of 1,360 lbs of CO2 
  • At a time when commercial building occupancy is down by as much as 96%, energy consumption has only fallen 15%, revealing the need for tech-enabled systems to dynamically adjust energy usage to recognize cost savings and greenhouse gas emission reduction. 

Through a series of virtual workshops over the last year, the companies engaged with expert advisors from the NYC Dept. of Sanitation, NYC. Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services, Mayor's Office of Climate Policy, Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer, NYSERDA, Con Edison, Building Energy Exchange, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to guide the development of their pilot projects. The cohort also received support and user insight from local pilot site partners, including Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, The Trust for Governors Island, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, and Flatbush Junction BID. Establishing relationships with these local, trusted leaders ensured that the cohort was designing their pilots to be responsive to New York's neighborhoods' needs and goals, many of which were quickly changing in the face of COVID-19.

“The Circular City Studio brings together city partners and the innovative potential of leading companies to power resilience and sustainability in New York City at the neighborhood level, with potential future implications for cities across the world,” said Shaina Horowitz, VP of Product and Programs at Newlab. “Over the course of this past year, the Circular City’s remarkable company cohort has piloted transformative solutions to profound challenges faced by New York City, and we’re excited to showcase the results of their efforts today.”

“Through our partnership with Newlab, we’re supporting leading entrepreneurs as they bring their products to market in New York City and while working to create a resilient and healthy zero-waste future for all New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “This year’s pilots provide us with crucial data to show the potential for technology to move us forward in achieving the City’s ambitious sustainability goals.”

Today, Wednesday, December 9 at 2:00pm - 3:15pm ET, Newlab will hold a Virtual Showcase to provide a deeper dive into the data and insights generated from Studio pilots conducted across New York City. To RSVP for the showcase, click here.

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