NYCHA Tech Pilot at 33 Saratoga

Greg Smith of the New York Daily News published a piece over the weekend that highlighted difficult data from a NYCHA tech pilot that our firm, BlocPower, is working on.

Out of concern for the residents of 33 Saratoga, (the address where our tech pilot is taking place), and to help answer questions that other NYCHA or NYC residents may have, we wanted to clarify, as much as possible, what we know and what we don’t know about the air quality in the building.

Our tech pilot uses generic air quality sensors, which don’t allow us to scientifically identify specific chemicals in the building. What we can see is that there are chemicals present. These chemicals all come from a list of “Volatile Organic Compounds” created by the Federal government. There are over 90 different kinds chemicals, and our sensors aren’t able to identify WHICH chemicals are present.  Some Volatile Organic Compounds are very toxic, but others are emitted by common household cleaning products. So we need to find out what type of Volatile Organic Chemicals are present, and how long they may have been in the building.

We spoke to professors of public health at Harvard and MIT, who said that the appropriate next step was to hire an industrial hygienist to collect air quality samples from a lab. Those lab results are the only way to figure out what might be wrong in the building.

The tech pilot is focused around helping NYCHA to learn to use low cost temperature and air quality sensors to create an early warning system to detect heating and cooling needs, and to reduce energy costs, which can generate money to be used in improving NYCHA buildings. Across the city, we believe that NYCHA can use solar panels and clean energy and improved heating systems to generate over a $1bn to invest in making buildings healthier and safer. We want to support NYCHA’s attempt to embrace innovation, which is why we have donated 100% of the sensors and our services.

Who are we? BlocPower is an early stage technology startup, focused on making buildings greener and safer, by: analyzing sensor data, equipment data, energy consumption data, building physics data, weather data, and financial data to identify and understand all of the ways that buildings overconsume and waste fossil fuel energy. Then we recommend fixes, and upgrades and solutions to reduce the buildings energy bills, so that the savings can be invested in fixing the building.

NYCHA is one of the institutions that makes New York special. NYCHA needs billions of dollars of new green infrastructure.

It’s time for all of us to come together as New Yorkers and use our time, talent, and technology to help upgrade and support NYCHA’s conversion to green infrastructure.


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