GREENWICH VILLAGE — Even if they don't own cars, Manhattanites have a long way to go before they can be complacent about being green.
The head of New York's chapter of the American Institute of Architects said city buildings account for almost 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 94 percent of energy use in the city.
Only 40 percent of energy used nationally can be attributed to buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The exhibit "Buildings=Energy" explores how architects and consumers can conserve energy in the construction, modification and use of buildings, AIA NY president Margaret Castillo said during a tour of the gallery, located on LaGuardia Place between West Third and Bleecker streets.
"I think energy, buildings and our resources are the topics of our century," she said.
The two-floor exhibit explains how lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation and other processes used to create building materials add up to a building's total energy use.
"One of the difficult things about this exhibit was that you can't see energy," Castillo said. "How do you make that real for people?"
She and her team tried to make energy tangible by choosing exhibits that show what architects and consumers can do to conserve energy.
The "Energy Lab" part of the exhibit displays products that help consumers use less energy, like Energy Orbs that change colors to indicate when collective use of the electrical grid is low and prices are lower than usual.
The museum also lets visitors check out the building's geo-exchange system, which uses a pipe drilled 1,260 feet into bedrock beneath the building to heat and cool it.
Architecture aficionados can find dozens of events and exhibits citywide using the "Archtober" events guide. A boat tour of city architecture on Tuesday from 1:15 to 4:15 p.m., hosted by the AIANY, is among the events.
Buildings = Energy is on display through Jan. 21. The Center for Architecture is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.