Dhruv Suri: Global Energy Models to Help Cities Urbanize Sustainably and Efficiently

Did you know that cities account for 70% of annual anthropogenic climate emissions globally?

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by  Ladderworks

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Dhruv Suri, the co-founder of BlueUrbn. Let’s learn how Dhruv is making a positive impact in the world through his work there.

Spiffy: Hi Dhruv, thanks a million for talking to me today. What challenge are you addressing through BlueUrbn?

Dhruv: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Did you know that cities account for 70% of annual anthropogenic climate emissions globally?

Spiffy: No, I didn’t!

Dhruv: And buildings play a huge role in these emissions—in some of the world’s most polluting countries, building emissions in a month are equivalent to the annual emissions of some Western countries. This glaring disparity is compounded by the fact that we possess all the necessary technologies to decarbonize cities and buildings. The challenge lies in the arduous task of aligning all the intricate mechanisms required to scale up these efforts.

Spiffy: Wow, I had no idea. What motivates you to do it?

Dhruv: When I was in elementary school in India, my parents purchased their first house: an apartment on the outskirts of Delhi. The land was barren, roads weren’t properly constructed, and you’d often see dozens of cows all around, no matter where you’d go. Now that apartment complex is in the heart of a second megacity that has become a major finance and technology hub in just ten years. With this rapid pace of development in India and all over the world, it’s imperative that the buildings we create are sustainable, high performing, and efficient.

Spiffy: You’re absolutely right. Now tell me, what would you say is the impact of your work?

Dhruv: Our team at BlueUrbn is developing global energy models that can help cities and buildings reduce their emissions and scale clean energy and energy-efficient technologies. Often, with the right combination of measures, buildings can cut 40% of their energy consumption and emissions and save a ton of money in the process. Our work has a direct impact on making cities sustainable, and ensuring that we’re rapidly urbanizing, but in a sustainable and equitable way.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

Dhruv: We just wrapped up a project where we worked with one of the country’s biggest non-profits to recommend energy conservation measures that can save them up to $150,000 annually and also prevent 200 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide from being pushed into the atmosphere every year. And we did all of this using the energy models our team has been developing over the last few months.

Spiffy: That’s amazing! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience today?

Dhruv: Our primary goal is to make buildings more efficient. A first-order effect of this is, quite obviously, reduced emissions and energy consumption, but the impact of energy-efficient homes, especially in low-income housing, is HUGE. By scaling energy efficiency and clean energy solutions in low-income neighborhoods, we make the best technologies available to people who couldn’t traditionally get access to them. In this way, we make the climate transition one that is just, equitable, and inclusive.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Dhruv—it’s been an honor!

Dhruv Suri is an engineer and climate researcher whose work spans technology, policy, and last-mile implementation. An energy science graduate from Stanford, Dhruv spent a year working with governments in Africa and Asia to scale renewable energy technologies. He’s an avid mountain-biker, although he spends most time going over the bars! (First published on the Ladderworks website on October 17, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

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© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy’s Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.