Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

What Questions Do You Have about Energy Efficiency?


On Tuesday, September 20, I'm set to moderate a panel on energy efficiency, specifically as it applies in New York City. As part of Climate Week NYC, the panelists will explore what the local utility Consolidated Edisonand some of its partners—are doing to manage electricity use in the city that never sleeps (which means we use a lot of power when you add it all up, explicitly 2,500 megawatts per square mile in Manhattan).

In New York, it's all about the buildings. New regulations will soon force building owners to stop burning the dirtiest fuel oil in heating system boilers. And, as James Gallagher of the New York Independent System Operator, pointed out a year or so ago, "400 buildings are responsible for 20 percent of Con Ed's peak load." That's some pretty low-hanging (and easily identified) fruit, though challenges remain, like the fact that owners, who would have to pay a bundle for such efficiency improvements, typically don't live in the building (or pay its electric bills) and therefore don't reap any financial reward. Then there's the fact that New York already has (or is soon to get) many of the "smart grid" improvements that are merely under discussion for the rest of the country.

Ultimately, there's a perpetual question that faces any energy efficiency effort anywhere: if it saves money, why isn't more already happening?

I know what questions I'll be asking, but I'm also curious what *you* want to know about energy efficiency efforts? What questions do you have for your local utility, or for Con Ed, ThinkEco and Viridity?

The event will be held at the New York Academy of Sciences, 7 World Trade Center. Join us if you can. In any case, please contribute a question in the comments below or email them to

Image: © / rabbit75_ist


The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription
as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >


Email this Article