Last year, we wrote about a sweeping project from the MIT Sustainable Design Lab and the Boston design firm Modern Development Studio that mapped the potential for installing solar power on every square meter of every roof in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT developed algorithms using public flyover LIDAR data to automatically assess each building's suitability – by location, angle and surroundings – for soaking up the sun's rays.
At the time, the tool looked like a replicable one that could change how we harvest solar power on a community scale. Now, the project's original creators have licensed their technology from MIT and launched a spinoff company, called Mapdwell, that intends to scale this up beyond Cambridge, even beyond solar surveys. A similar and slick interactive platform, they figure, could also educate homeowners and commercial building managers about their potential for other kinds of green roofs, or rainwater collection.
The project just tapped its second city, Washington, D.C. And similar solar maps in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and, abroad, in Chile, are due in the new year. Eduardo Berlin, the new company's CEO, says Mapdwell is also in talks with about 20 other cities, mostly in the U.S., to create something similar to this Washington platform: