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Imagine a world where it is possible for urban areas to efficiently, and accurately, perform integrated environmental modeling—something which is necessary for developing and implementing green action plans based on the complex system of inputs and outputs specific to that area. The data could provide not only real-time information on environmental stressors such as pollution, but could also help ensure proper urban planning that accounts for use of trails, foot traffic, and as a result can estimate the likelihood of soil compaction or erosion along a popular riverbank beach.

That world is possible.

Former Great Ecology employee, Alejandro Baladrón, recently attended the Climate Launchpad cleantech business idea European Union finals competition, which is part of Climate-kic. There, Alejandro, and his business partner, Carlos Rivero, presented a five-minute pitch of their new technology, URBANMET.

“URBANMET is an urban environmental management solution for the holistic study of urban systems for public authorities committed to making cities more sustainable and resilient to climate change…integrated algorithms [will] connect multiple air, soil, water, and biology mathematic models to efficiently track energy and matter’s journey inside cities…”

According to the concept of urban metabolism, from which the product name is derived, cities are like “superorganisms,” the result of a complex systems of inputs, outputs, and flowpaths that move matter and energy through multiple environmental layers, including soils, the water cycle, the atmosphere and the vegetation. This software would help clients better understand a city’s urban metabolism. Since it is summarized by GIS maps, clients would be able to see spatiotemporal trends that influence environmental issues in their urban areas.

URBANMET´s holistic approach to the study of urban systems empowers public authorities to decide what green management options should be implemented in the city and where. This improvement in decision-making leads to higher reductions of CO2 emissions. Estimates indicate that URBANMET can reduce more than 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions in a city like New York annually, which is the equivalent of taking 54,000 cars off the road for a year.

Alejandro and Carlos were one of six teams (out of 88!) selected to pitch at the “Urban Transitions Theme Award.” The theme awards were a separate pitch-competition from the main Climate Launchpad program. There were five categories:

  • Urban Transitions;
  • Sustainable Production Systems;
  • Decision Metrics & Finance;
  • Sustainable Land Use; and
  • Carbon Negative.

Being selected to pitch at the “Urban Transitions Theme Award” meant URBANMET was considered one of the best solutions for developing integrated, scalable, and replicable systemic solutions that serve as catalysts, driving the transformation towards livable, zero-carbon, and resilient cities.

Ultimately, Alejandro and Carlos did not win the final prize at the Climate Launchpad event, but Alejandro said it was an amazing experience and that he and Carlos learned many useful tools for communicating ideas to potential investors. In addition, as national finalists Alejandro and Carlos were awarded SILVER-status for the Climate-KIC Accelerator Program.

Alejandro holds a Master’s in Applied Hydrology and is currently a Great Ecology affiliate. Carlos is an expert in greenhouse gas emissions.