Seeing Solar Energy's Impact in Numbers

A new map calculates the potential, annual savings and environmental impact that solar panels would have on every building in New York City.
by | June 27, 2011 AT 3:30 PM

The interest in solar panels among home and building owners has noticeably increased in recent years, but uncertainty about costs, savings and the installation process have kept many from following through. Hoping to demystify the benefits of solar power, New York City launched a map that calculates the solar potential and annual savings of each of its more than 1 million buildings, according to a release. By typing in a building's address, users can discover how many pounds of greenhouse gases would leave the air as a result of installing solar panels on rooftops. In addition to calculating solar power's financial and environmental benefits, the website also offers clear, comprehensive information about the installation process, including what government incentives are available and how long before a building owner would regain the costs in energy savings. According to the New York Times, two-thirds of NYC buildings could be powered by solar energy, which could produce more than half of the city's electricity at peak periods. The map and its accompanying website were developed through partnerships between city agencies, an economic development corporation, and the City University of New York. It was financed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities program. San Francisco produced a similar map in 2007, which contributed to an over 400 percent rise in the number of solar panels on private roofs, reports the Times.