Giving Compass' Take:

• Sidewalk Labs revealed a new tool that will help buildings manage energy use, prioritizing efficiency to address climate change.  

• How can donor capital help drive progress in sustainable cities? 

• Here are lessons on zero-carbon energy systems. 

Sidewalk Labs unveiled a new tool Tuesday that it says will help commercial buildings manage energy use and reduce environmental impact. The tool, known as Mesa, uses real-time data and automation to optimize energy use.

The kit, which is designed for easy installation in older and smaller office buildings, automatically manages heating and cooling; uses weather patterns and other external data to avoid over-heating or over-cooling a space; and can automatically turn off unused power outlets in a bid to reduce energy waste.

Mesa, which has been piloted by Sidewalk Labs in two office buildings in New York City, gathers non-personal data and information to help manage energy consumption. The company said the toolkit went through a Responsible Data Use process ensuring it was designed with privacy and ethical implications in mind. Sidewalk Labs said the digital devices cannot identify any individual.

Sidewalk Labs was pursuing the Quayside smart city project in Toronto, but unexpectedly announced it was pulling out in May amid what CEO Daniel Doctoroff said at the time was "unprecedented economic uncertainty." When it withdrew from the project on the Toronto waterfront, Sidewalk Labs pledged to have several new tools and technological solutions to roll out in the future, partly driven by the insights the company gained from its work in the city and elsewhere.

In an interview, Sidewalk Labs' Editorial Director Eric Jaffe said the company is focused on helping cities solve issues of affordability and sustainability — solutions driven by technology.

This tool comes as cities wrestle with the impacts of climate change and how they can reduce emissions in the commercial buildings sector, which along with transportation is responsible for the majority of those emissions. An increasing number of cities have passed laws setting energy benchmarks or reporting mandates for office buildings, with some like St. Louis now requiring energy performance targets.

Read the full article about building energy efficiency by Chris Teale at Smart Cities Dive.