NUS researchers develop AI-powered tool to map sustainable roofs globally

Read the full story from the National University of Singapore.

As cities around the world continue to urbanise, there is a greater need to expand and optimise existing spaces. Cities have accelerated looking into how underutilised rooftop spaces might contribute to climate action, food production, and other purposes. Sustainable roofs, such as those with greenery and photovoltaic panels, can contribute to the roadmap for reducing the carbon footprint of cities but while studies have been done to gauge their potential, few track the actual performance of cities.

To tackle this, Dr Filip Biljecki, Presidential Young Professor from the Department of Architecture at the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Design and Environment, and NUS Master of Architecture graduate Mr Abraham Noah Wu developed an automated tool that uses satellite images to track how rooftops around the world adopt solar panels and/or vegetation. Known as Roofpedia, it uses a fully convolutional neural network (deep learning) which allows researchers and policymakers to study how cities worldwide are greening their rooftops and using them for photovoltaic installations.

This is a research project under the NUS Urban Analytics Lab, a multidisciplinary research group at the NUS School of Design and Environment. Their research was published in the international journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

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