City of Cambridge: Buildings and Energy

Data visualization, Geospatial Information System (GIS), R, Creative coding, Data science, Academic


According to City of Cambridge, energy use in buildings accounts for about 80% of GHG emissions in Cambridge, with two-thirds of the total related to commercial, institutional, and large multifamily buildings. For nonresidential properties that has area of 50,000 square feet or more, residential properties with 50 or more units and municipal properties 10,000 square feet, they all subject to report to Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO), which first enacted in 2014. This tool aims to visualize the distribution of energy use by building types and usages based on BEUDO data.


M. Hanif Wicaksono (Designer & programmer)

Project for

Fall 2019 Data - Department of Government, Harvard University
Instructor: David Kane

Featured in

Process workflow

Introduction to Data Science with R

A final project for Data: Introduction to Data Science with R, GOV1005 at Harvard university. I wanted to design a visualization that sits at the intersection of energy, policy, and government as part of my thesis research exploration (also check the work, Evici).

Project direction

This project aims to get a flavor of building makeups, how are they being classified in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and finally the utility usage on each area. I also wanted to give some levels of customization on which data are being reviewed by the user.

In general, I split the dashboard application into three pages:
In a glance, Classifications, and Analysis.

In a glance

The first page shows the distribution of buildings in Cambridge based on year built and their respective energy consumption. The user could change the filter and granularity to better suit their view.


The second page shows how buildings in Cambridge are classified based on official geospatial database and assessing purpose. Generally, City of Cambridge uses 3 classifications to store building data at different levels:

  • Neighborhoods
  • Parcel index
  • Parcels


The analysis page visualized Cambridge's total energy usage (or intensity per square foot) for each parcel index using cloropleth map for water, electricity, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

City of Cambridge’s Parcel Index

Libraries used for this project


R was used to develop this project. This project is open source, repository can be found here at this link.


Geospatial data and energy use is referenced from City of Cambridge’s GIS Open Data Portal. I processed multiple datasets in this project:

  • Cambridge energy use (tabular data)
  • Cambridge Neigborhoods and parcels (Geospatial data)

Data processing and libraries used

Most of data cleaning and processing were developed using tidyverse package, and visualized using Shinyapps. Additional libraries also used to add interactivity.



© 2020 Hanif Wicaksono.