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Startup aims to fix blind spot in buildings' carbon footprint analysis: 'It should not be a blocker'

In 2023, NZero opened their headquarters in Reno, Nevada, partnering with the state to track and lower pollution.

In 2023, NZero opened their headquarters in Reno, Nevada, partnering with the state to track and lower pollution.

Photo Credit: iStock

NZero, a tech startup devoted to decarbonization, aims to provide better data on pollution from buildings, according to TechCrunch

NZero generates estimates of a building's pollution based on ZIP code, square footage, heating and cooling systems, and more. With this data, NZero offers solutions to help building owners choose upgrades and cost-efficient changes to curb their planet-warming pollution, thus helping to improve public health by cleaning up the air.

For many building owners, it can be difficult to get an accurate reading of annual pollution levels. With smart meters and sensors, building owners can more accurately receive this information.

However, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 88% of advanced (smart) meter installations in 2022 were for residential customers. About 73% of residential electric meters were advanced, but the percentage of commercial meters that were smart was just 69%, potentially leaving some of the latter with less detailed energy information.

"Better data is going to give you better outcomes, but it should not be a blocker," NZero's CTO John Rula told TechCrunch.

In 2023, NZero opened its headquarters in Reno, Nevada, partnering with the state to track and lower pollution, per the local station News 4. NZero also worked with the Las Vegas Raiders and Allegiant Stadium to track real-time energy data to host the first "100% Carbon-Free Energy" Super Bowl in February 2024, according to a company news release.

Reno aims to lower pollution by 28% by 2025, compared to 2008 levels, as the city's Emissions Dashboard stated.

New York City is another large city that has made strides to reduce pollution. Local Law 97, passed in 2019, requires most buildings in the city that are over 25,000 square feet to meet new energy efficiency and pollution standards in 2024.

Also, the city government committed to a 20% reduction in energy consumption for city-owned buildings by 2025 and set standards that new buildings will be 100% net zero by 2030. Net zero refers to the difference between pollution produced and pollution removed, per National Grid.

According to the EIA, about 60% of energy used in large buildings comes from electricity, and 34% comes from natural gas. Overall, buildings across the world contribute to about 42% of pollution, according to Architecture 2030.

Recently, President Biden signed an executive order to achieve net-zero-pollution buildings by 2045 across the country. Even homes can achieve net-zero pollution, like the accessory dwelling unit owned by a Washington, D.C. resident who recommends using tax incentives, cost-efficient appliances, and eco-friendly building materials. 

NZero's data tracking system can help building owners find solutions to reach these goals, such as reducing reliance on dirty energy, utilizing solar energy, and repurposing materials from existing buildings. 

"There's all these different steps and hurdles of which data collection is one, compliance reporting is another, but they're not the end goal, right?" Rula told TechCrunch. "The end goal is to promote and accelerate decarbonization."

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