Open Window Study

Help Collect Data for our Open Window Study

Winter is here. However, despite the cold, some New Yorkers may be too hot this season. If you live in NYC, you’ve likely experienced an overheated apartment and had to open a window to cool down. Most residential buildings use steam heat, and uncontrolled heating is forcing tenants to open windows to reduce indoor temperatures, even on chilly winter nights.

Urban Green wants to understand the magnitude of this problem. Our research will look into a potential correlation between open windows and steam heating. Unfortunately, we only have anecdotes of open windows in winter and no data to back it up. That's where you come in! This winter, we need volunteers to take photos of building facades to show us what's happening across the city.


  1. On your next commute or city stroll, look out for apartments* with open windows.
  2. Take one or two photos of the building facade with open windows.
  3. Record these key details:
    • Building address
    • Number of open windows
    • Date & time of day
    • Outdoor temperature**
  4. Upload the photos and information to this form.
  5. Repeat with as many buildings as you can!

*Building should be residential and larger than 5,000 square feet in size (see examples here[link]). We’re not looking at small buildings like brownstones, offices or other types of businesses at this point.
**It must be colder than 45 degrees F outside


Urban Green Council in collaboration with NYSERDA and Steven Winter Associates, will publish the first of two reports focused on steam heat systems in New York this winter. Demystifying Steam will examine issues surrounding steam heat in NYC, explain simples fixes and explore its future role in our buildings.

The second phase of our research is focused on smaller buildings. The Open Window Study, along with predictive learning models, will help us better understand what's happening in New York City's vast medium-sized (5,000 to 50,000 square feet) building stock. Armed with a more complete picture of our city, we can target future improvements in energy efficiency and emissions reductions.