Despite the emergence of Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore, Dubai and several other urban centers of repute, New York remains the single most iconic city on the planet. Having extended its reign in the public imagination for a century or more, the great metropolis is now seeking to become the first to set the ultimate standard in sustainability, among all modern cities. 


Governor Cuomo’s 2019 Justice Agenda, included The Climate Mobilization Act, which calls for the city to meet a 100% of its electricity needs carbon-free, by 2040, eventually making New York carbon neutral. Although enhancing the renewable energy capacity of the city will play a major role, making existing and future built assets more energy efficient will be of equal importance, in meeting this ambitious target. 


Leveraging data to achieve the pinnacle of sustainability

For a modern city to be carbon neutral, its infrastructure must be elevated to a ‘smart’ status. However, with the wholesale replacement of existing assets being impossible, how does one achieve such a radical transformation? The answer lies in a strategy based on Digital Retrofits. By using enterprise wide platforms to collect data in existing automation and delivering continuous performance control, real-time optimization can upgrade performances to unprecedented heights. 


New York’s buildings were responsible for almost 70% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2017 study. Is it even possible to reduce these by 40%, by 2030 – as The Climate Mobilization Act requires? As daunting as the task seems, Digital Retrofits can help deliver such dramatic results. In fact, this is the only viable strategy that can transform the vast numbers of the world’s currently standing buildings into smart, sustainable assets. What’s more, unlike the full-fledged physical retrofits that were the only previous option, Digital Retrofits can deliver the transformation required at much lower costs, and more rapidly. As a matter of fact, a 2018 report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimated a reduction in energy consumption of 18% in offices, 14% in shops and 8% in hospitals, using such retrofitted smart upgrades. 


Unlocking optimal performance, through real time integration

So why are Digital Retrofits the gamechanging solution for the FM industry? Ultimately, creating a central command and control platform, that uses IoT and Machine Learning, empowers existing infrastructure at much lower costs than pure hardware retrofits. Digital Retrofits make the upgrade process rapid and ensure maximum enhancement in performance, with minimal additional investment. 


Digital Retrofitting delivers best case outcomes for people and assets, while optimizing energy use in real-time and the best part is, one can deploy these modern digital enhancements in tandem with existing in situ equipment. Much like the technology and data-led revolution of other industries, commercial real estate owners and facilities managers can now achieve efficiencies that their existing processes and systems were not capable of previously. Complete visibility into operations, and insight-led continuous efficiency across all assets, is the fundamental shift that Digital Retrofits enable, and the integration yields benefits for all stakeholders and all performance metrics. 


Carbon neutral, but with enhanced performance

The Digital Retrofit solution is a win-win for the experience that the buildings deliver, as well as the larger goal of sustainable operations. As an approach, one of its great strengths is that it results in a significant enhancement of the commercial value of the property that deploys it. As if the ability to create positives for energy and resource consumption, lowering costs and allowing rapid implementation at scale weren’t enough, it is also a strategy that will yield one of the most effective solutions for the greatest threats humanity currently faces – human caused climate change. 


The resounding endorsement that Digital Retrofits have received, in the context of New York’s unprecedented effort to redefine urban sustainability, could be even more historic than most realize. From a city that captures the imagination because of its iconic landmarks, New York could end up reinforcing its coveted status among the great urban centers of our world, because of its leadership in embracing one of the most important innovations of our times. Being able to upgrade our buildings, relatively cheaply but with the desired outcomes, is not simply a commercial advantage, it is a means to create the solution that can reconcile abundance with sustainability. In a future yet to come, Digital Retrofits may end up being celebrated as a keystone solution that helped humanity undo the damage we have caused the environment in decades and centuries past.