Theses Master's

Mining Urban Heat

Oursler, Anna

This study is about realigning the demand of energy in urban environments to take advantage of the excess energy from passive and mechanical sources - it is about mining urban heat.

My interests in this topic lies in the possibility of designing an ecology of urban spaces with symbiotic relationships between thermal supply and demand. To this end, the thesis begins by mapping the availability of secondary heat from solar radiant sources, and building process systems, showing that an estimated 28.285 Trillion British Thermal Units (BTU) of heat are available for reuse in New York City - this is equal to 52 percent of the energy produced at the Indian Point Power Station in one year. If one hundred percent of this secondary heat could be captured and reused New York City could save up to 182 billion dollars in electricity purchase per year.

The study explores how zoning and building code could be altered to capture these savings, eventually creating cities with net zero secondary heat production. Design proposals for a net-zero secondary heat city include co-location of building uses based on complementary heating demand schedules, distribution networks for available low grade secondary heat and consideration of viable end uses for this low grade heat, de-centralizing industries that regularly use large quantities of high grade heat to serve as neighborhood hearths of secondary heat production, and establishment of heat sinks by neighborhood in the form of open space. The thesis explores the technical, spatial and policy implications of these ideas in selected New York City neighborhoods.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Sclar, Elliott
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
October 23, 2015